Big Truck Wreck Lawyers – Husband of Woman Killed

Dallas, 11/14/2016 /SubmitPressRelease123/

Big Truck Wreck Lawyers of 1800 Truck Wreck report on big truck accident in Texas that results in wrongful death lawsuit against carrier.

The Texas big truck accident lawyers at 1800 Truck Wreck are reporting on another accident involving an 18-wheeler and a passenger vehicle that claimed the life of a Texas woman whose family has now filed suit against the truck carrier.

Jared Higgs, the husband of Heather Higgs – the woman killed in the truck wreck – filed the suit in August, naming the driver of the truck involved in the accident, and the owner of the truck for wrongful death.

The Truck Wreck

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) confirmed that the accident took place on Interstate 30 near Texarkana, Texas.

At about 5:40 p.m., an accident had slowed down rush hour traffic as vehicles tried to bypass the wreckage.

But the driver of an 18-wheeler who was approaching that traffic, failed to slow down and smashed into the rear of a passenger vehicle that Higgs was driving.

The impact pushed Higgs’ vehicle into the rear of another commercial truck before her car burst into flames.

The first 18-wheeler that caused the initial accident also caught on fire and careened along the right shoulder of the freeway, crashing into another passenger vehicle.

“Both vehicles were engulfed in flames soon after the collision,” stated DPS spokeswoman Sgt. Sylvia Jennings.

The fiery commercial truck caused damage to other cars on the highway, eventually involving six vehicles, all of which sustained serious damage.

Jennings was pronounced dead at the scene, and several other drivers were treated for injuries.

Lawsuit Details

In the fallout of the big truck accident, Jared Higgs’ lawsuit named Jerry Freeman – the driver of the tractor-trailer that caused the wreck – and PNK, Inc., the owner of the truck that Freeman was driving at the time of the crash.

Mr. Higgs is seeking damages on behalf of himself, the couple’s daughter, and his wife’s mother, father and brother.

“Due to traffic stopping in front of her, Mrs. Higgs stopped her car,” states part of the suit. “Defendant Freeman, while in the course and scope of his employment, recklessly failed to stop the 18-wheeler he was operating, and violently collided with Mrs. Higgs. This violent collision caused Mrs. Higgs’ car to catch fire, and she was burned to death.”

The suit accuses Freeman of not keeping a proper look out, driving at an unsafe speed, following too closely and failing to pay attention to the traffic conditions prior to the accident.

PNK is a defendant because the suit claims that the carrier did not provide the proper training to Freeman that would have prevented the truck wreck.

Carrier’s History of Safety Violations

According to U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) records, PNK INK is a transport company based in Arkansas that hauls cargo.

As of 2016, the carrier owns 40 trucks and employs 40 truck drivers.

The USDOT has performed 227 inspections of PNK in the past two years, and in those inspections, the carrier was found to have violated at least one hours-of-service regulations 44 times.

Hours-of-service regulations refer to the number of consecutive hours that a commercial driver can operate a truck without a rest period.  

These regulations are intended to combat the incidents of driver fatigue that is one of the leading causes of big truck accidents.

The USDOT also found that PNK had violated at least one driver safety violation 20 times, and that the carrier violated at least one vehicle maintenance violation 60 times.

“One of the most important standards that we look for when dealing with big truck accidents is the hours-of-service standards of a particular carrier,” stated Amy Witherite, founding partner at the big truck accident law firm of Eberstein & Witherite, LLP, which has offices throughout Texas and in Atlanta, Georgia. “This is important because it can give us an idea about how much that carrier values the rest and recuperation of its drivers. Rested commercial drivers are far more likely to be safer commercial drivers. When carriers don’t observe the hours-of-service regulations, it shows us that they don’t place a premium on employing safe drivers, which can have devastating consequences on the road.”

Gaps In Hours-of-Service Regulations

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) pushed to establish the hours-of-service regulations as a means of combating the increasing incidents of driver fatigue that had led to many big truck accidents.

NTSB officials believed that instituting mandatory rest periods during the course of a commercial driver’s operating route would help lower driver fatigue and prevent truck wrecks caused by exhausted commercial drivers.

But some truck safety experts have criticized the NTSB for practicing tunnel vision by not acknowledging that the hours-of-service regulations may have some gaps that need to be addressed.

These gaps came to light after the massive 2014 big truck accident that involved a Walmart commercial vehicle that nearly killed comedian Tracy Morgan.

By the letter of the law, the truck driver who caused that accident had adhered to the hours-of-service regulations.

He had been driving for 13.5 hours of a 14-hour workday, and had taken his prescribed rest periods, but the issue was that he had not actually slept during his down time.

As a result, the driver had been awake for more than 28 hours prior to the truck accident, which was a major contributing factor to why he rear-ended Morgan’s vehicle.

In response to critics who called on the NTSB to find ways to monitor how drivers use their rest periods, NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart said:

“Hours-of-service rules cannot address what drivers do on their own time.”

Witherite agreed with this assessment, and believes that this gap will continue to plague truck carriers.

“You’re really talking about an honor system,” Witherite added. “So you have to rely on the honesty of truck drivers and hope that they take advantage of these rest periods and actually sleep, because downtime that doesn’t include sleep means that some of these drivers are still exhausted when they get back on the road. We saw that in the big Walmart truck wreck with Tracy Morgan, and I’m afraid we’re probably going to see it again in the near future.”

Educating Drivers About Fatigue

As with many safety issues related to big trucks, educating commercial drivers may be the key to lowering driver fatigue, and there’s been a recent push to use technology to help these drivers understand how to better manage their fatigue.

Several companies are testing out wearable technology in the form of wristbands that are designed to track the sleep patterns of truck drivers during their rest periods.

The technology is also able to predict the wearer’s performance based on sleep patterns, sleep disruptions and the number of “quality” sleep hours that was achieved during the rest period.

The technology uses what is known as a SAFTE score, a fatigue model invented by the U.S. Army that USDOT has validated as applicable to commercial truck drivers.

Drivers with the wearable technology are provided information such as their peak performance hours, and when their performance is likely to decline due to fatigue.

The technology is designed to give commercial drivers as much information as possible about their fatigue level, so that they can understand how to maximize their rest periods to prevent operating their vehicles during times in which their fatigue is at a dangerous level.

Dangers of Sleep Apnea

The wearable technology may also be able to identify sleep disorders that can make fatigue an even bigger challenge for some truck drivers.

In fact nearly 30 percent of commercial truck drivers have some form of sleep apnea, according to a study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person stops breathing for a minimum of 10 seconds multiple times during a sleeping session.

It often goes undiagnosed, and causes sufferers to feel exhausted after a sleep session due to the fact that their rest is so often interrupted.

For commercial drivers, sleep apnea compromises their ability to focus and be alert because of fatigue.

And while sleep apnea may not cause a driver to fall asleep behind the wheel, it can definitely make drivers inattentive and unfocused, which is still very dangerous.

Do You Need a Lawyer After a Truck Accident?

One of the most common questions truck accident victims have is whether they should even bother hiring a lawyer. In fact, this is probably the most important decision you can make in the immediate aftermath of a big truck accident.

What makes this decision vital is that accident claims can be won or lost in the minutes and hours immediately after an accident. That’s because truck accident investigators and truck accident lawyers often arrive at the scene right away, attempting to control the evidence and ensure that they maximize their client’s chances in a potential legal action.

A personal injury lawyer can protect your rights and ensure that you have the very best chance to win a legal claim against those responsible for the injuries you’ve suffered in an accident.

Contact 1800 Truck Wreck

If you live in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Texarkana, or the Atlanta Georgia area and have sustained a serious injury in a truck wreck, contact 1-800-Truck-Wreck and speak to one of the lawyers at Eberstein & Witherite. We have spent decades helping people recover from these big truck wrecks, and we are dedicated to restoring your quality of life and obtaining fair compensation for your injuries and for pain and suffering. Call us today or fill out the online form and someone will be in touch with you asap.


Media Contact:

Lucy Tiseo

Eberstein & Witherite, LLP

Phone: 800-878-2597

Email: [email protected]

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