Dallas, 10/21/2016 /SubmitPressRelease123/
One of the victims of a February accident in Austin that involved a commercial truck has filed suit against the trucking company, claiming that negligence caused the wreck.
The accident occurred in the early morning during rush hour, as a red dump truck filled with gravel, sped through a red light at the intersection of Jester Boulevard and RM 2222.
The dump truck smashed into several vehicles, then careened off the road and tumbled 20 feet down an embankment into a ditch, before bursting into flames.
One of the vehicles that the dump truck hit crashed into a utility pole.
Six people suffered minor injuries in the wreck, but according to the testimony of one eyewitness, it could have been much worse.
Dash Cam Evidence
Cookie Bandel was at the red light waiting to turn left at the exact moment that the accident occurred.
She said that she had pulled up behind the dump truck a few minutes prior to the accident, and that the driver of the truck had moved aside to allow her to pass.
“He seemed to be having some trouble because he was going real slow,” Bandel stated. “It seemed obvious that there was something, some problem because he pulled over and the truck was bouncing. He waved me by and I acknowledged him.”
Bandel said that both her vehicle and the dump truck were moving down a steep hill at the time that she saw the driver of the truck.
But police didn’t just have to rely on her recollection of the accident, because as luck would have it, Bandel had a dashboard video camera in her vehicle.
When she informed authorities of this fact, they asked her for the thumb drive, realizing that they could analyze the video to determine exactly what happened.
After the accident, Bandel and other drivers who witnessed the wreck ran to help the motorists who were in the vehicles that the truck had hit.
Three people jumped into the ditch where the truck had come to a stop, and pulled out the driver just moments before the commercial vehicle burst into flames.
The video footage provided by Bandel gave police a clear picture of what led to the accident.
As the dump truck ran through the red light, it smashed into a silver passenger vehicle at the light, and then clipped several other cars before falling into the ditch.
There is no indication on the video that the driver of the dump truck attempted to slow down or stop as the vehicle approached the red light.
Police said that though the crash was still under investigation, the main contributing factor to the accident appeared to be failed brakes.
But they cautioned that other factors could have also exacerbated the situation, including excessive speed.
Trucking Company Had Multiple Safety Violations
Making things even more complicated is that Franco’s Trucking – which owns the dump truck – has been cited with 20 safety violations in the past, according to information obtained from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
These violations include exhaust leaks, operating without proof of inspection, inoperative headlamps, broken turn signals, and oil and grease leaks.
One of the company’s other trucks was also involved in an accident in August 2015, and that same truck was cited for inoperable lamps and inoperable turn signals twice in October 2015.
“It’s not surprising to see truck carriers with multiple safety violations and a high accident ratio,” stated Amy Witherite, partner at the law firm of Eberstein & Witherite LLP, which has offices in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, Houston and Atlanta, Georgia. “The reason is that many of these independent truck carriers often don’t comply with safety regulations because they’re too expensive, and the profit motive is high for these smaller companies. And that may result in devastating accidents.”
Marco Franco, the owner of Franco Trucking, said that the driver of the truck was delivering a load from Georgetown to a client located on Jester Boulevard.
He told authorities that he inspected the truck’s lights, brakes, water and oil every week, and that he had no idea why the brakes failed on the vehicle.
Victim Files Lawsuit
The discovery that Franco Trucking has had multiple safety violations in the past may help the lawsuit recently filed by a woman who was injured in the dump truck accident.
Delaney Nelson, 19, contends that she suffered what the suit terms as “life-altering injuries” in the accident.
On the day of the accident, Nelson was traveling eastbound on RM 2222, driving through the intersection at Jester Boulevard when the dump truck t-boned her vehicle.
She suffered injuries to her face and ears, and spine.
Nelson accuses Franco’s Trucking of negligence in its hiring process, because the driver of the truck, Codie Korn had multiple criminal violations, and should not have been behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle.
Korn has a criminal record for a battery conviction in Idaho, a DUI, and a citation for driving without a valid license.
The lawsuit also states that Korn had been arrested for illegal consumption, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
“Bottom line is that the truck should not have been on the road,” stated Nelson’s lawyer, “and that driver should not have been driving that vehicle.”
The lawsuit also claims that Korn failed to maintain control of his vehicle, operated his vehicle in a manner that was not safe, and did not keep a proper lookout as he was driving in traffic.
“This case is about community safety,” Nelson’s lawyer added. “If you are going to be a business in our community, and if you are going to use commercial trucks on our roads, there are safety rules you have to follow.”
Nelson’s lawyer also said that Franco’s Trucking showed negligence by putting trust in Korn to safety operate a commercial vehicle, given his history of drug use and repeated motor vehicle violations.
The Dangers of Trucking Companies With Multiple Safety Violations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has the power to shut down truck carries that repeatedly violate safety standards.
The FMCSA has issued numerous reports about the safety threat posed by trucking companies that do not perform routine safety inspections, or make repairs to faulty equipment.
These risks were evident in a May 2015 incident in which a commercial truck owned by Prudential Carriers Inc., leaked a load of canola oil onto I-75 in Georgia.
The driver of the truck did not pull the vehicle over, and as a result, the slick and hazardous conditions created by the leaking oil caused four accidents.
The driver was arrested, and an investigation by the FMCSA revealed “widespread regulatory violations demonstrating Prudential’s repeated and egregious non-compliance with federal safety regulations, and a management philosophy indifferent to motor carrier safety.”
Part of those violations included Prudential’s failure to inspect, repair and maintain its fleet of trucks, failure to ensure that the company’s employees adhered to the federal hours-of-service regulations governing how many hours drivers could spend behind the wheel, and failure to comply with random alcohol and drug testing.
In June, the FMCSA issued a federal out-of-service order, which immediately barred Prudential from operating any of its commercial vehicles.
Although out-of-service orders do not always mean that a truck company can’t regain its right to resume operation, in many cases, these carriers do not have the resources to make the necessary changes to comply with federal standards.
However, that doesn’t mean that truck company owners who have been shut down, can’t find other means to resume working in the industry.
“A federal out-of-service order is effective at shutting down a non-compliant truck carrier,” Witherite stated, “but it doesn’t prevent that owner from registering a new trucking company under a different name and a different commercial license. So there are no safeguards to keep owners who have proven to be irresponsible in terms of their safety standards, from starting another trucking company that will likely have the same issues.”
The only way to prevent this gap in information is to create a federal database that includes the photos of all trucking company owners whose companies have been shut down.
That would make it easier for federal regulators to identify repeat offenders who try to obtain commercial trucking licenses under different names.
But the other issue is that there are a number of independent truck carriers who bypass operating licenses altogether, and run their businesses without any jurisdiction.
“Commercial trucks provide many useful and necessary services,” Witherite added. “But the fly-by-night companies that are just in it to turn over profits as quickly as possible, tend not to operate with any regard toward public safety. And it’s only after a major truck accident that results in many fatalities, that the issue is brought to light.”
Victims of truck accidents need an advocate to fight for their rights and protect themselves from aggressive truck company lawyers and investigators. If you have suffered injuries as the result of a commercial truck driver, call 1-800-Truck-Wreck and speak to the professionals at Eberstein & Witherite. We have spent decades helping people just like you recover from accidents, and obtain the compensation that you deserve. Call us now, or fill out the online form, and we will get in touch with you immediately.
Eberstein & Witherite, LLP
Email: [email protected]
Social Media Tags:Austin Truck Accident, Suit Against Trucking Company, Truck Company Lawyers
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