Matthew Jackson Killed in Truck Accident on FM 179 in Hale County, TX
Hale County, TX -- November 24, 2021, 40-year-old Matthew Jackson was killed in a crash between two commercial trucks on Farm to Market Road 179 in Hale County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 11:35 a.m. on FM 179 at County Road 195. Preliminary investigation suggests 65-year-old Rodolfo Garcia was driving a Western Star semi-truck with a dump trailer south on the roadway when he slowed to make a left turn onto CR 195 at the roads' intersection. Behind Garcia, Jackson was driving a Peterbilt big rig with a standard cargo box trailer south as well.
Reports indicate Jackson may have attempted to pass Garcia's turning truck by changing briefly into the northbound lane, but instead crashed into the dump trailer as Garcia turned left. Investigators noted a belief that Jackson may have thought Garcia was turning right or that Garcia began his turn after Jackson had already begun a legal passing maneuver. After the impact Jackson's truck passed through the road's southbound lane and overturned on the west side of the road.
Matthew Jackson was pronounced dead at the scene. Garcia's condition was not specified in reports.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Matthew Jackson Accident on FM 179 in Hale County
UPDATE (December 28, 2021): Further investigation includes a very important detail that may not have been available for previous reports: Investigators believe the turning truck's dump trailer may not have been wired electrically to have functioning taillights or turn signals. That means that a driver approaching from the back of that dump trailer would only be able to see that the truck was moving slowly, but wouldn't necessarily know why.
If the victim of this accident was unable to tell that the truck ahead was about to turn, then he would have had little reason to think much about passing the slow-moving truck. If investigators are right about that detail it may significantly change how the wreck is perceived and dealt with. For one thing, it provides the victim's employer with important ammunition to be sure neither he nor they are found to be at fault for the collision. However, that doesn't necessarily mean any further helpful action would be taken on behalf of the victim's loved ones unless they see to it themselves.
As I've often mentioned on this blog, trucking companies typically only look out for #1 when it comes to collisions. Whether a trucker hits a pedestrian, a car, or another big rig, the immediate response from his employer is likely to be "it wasn't our fault." Sometimes that may even be true, but regardless it's the song they'll sing unless evidence shows otherwise. In Hale County that may mean the dump truck driver's company will dispute police findings about the lights, which in fairness were reported as "the investigator's opinion," leaving room for argument. The victim's employer may look for evidence that it's true, but mostly just to save their own hide. Some companies might choose to share their findings with the victim's family, but that really can't be relied upon.
If true, the detail about the headlights could certainly affect any conversations about fault. However, it must still be objectively proven--moved from "investigator's opinion" into "indisputable fact" territory. Police may have the resources, time, and motivation to do that, but their motivations align more closely with punishing criminals than they do with helping victims. Neither they nor either trucking company should really be relied on to provide the crucial details needed by the victim's family to prove their story is the true one. Because of that I typically advise people who call the firm that one of the best steps they can take is to enlist the help of an independent accident reconstructionist. Armed with the proof those experts are often able to uncover, many victims and families are able to properly seek both the answers and the help they deserve.
ORIGINAL: Thorough investigation is important after any wreck, but that's even truer when the collision is between commercial trucks because fault may turn into a matter of "hot potato" between the trucking companies. Many transportation companies are not shy about deflecting blame any way they can, so when two of them try to pass it back and forth the victim's loved ones may be stuck waiting for the help they deserve.
Some may not think there can be much contest about fault here because this was a rear-end collision. The idea that such crashes are always the rear driver's fault is one of the biggest misconceptions I have to address when people contact the firm. I understand how that might seem to be the case, but it's not as automatic as some believe. Before anyone can say what really happened in Hale County it's important to consider all the possible explanations and variables: Visibility, vehicle conditions, driver attention and health, road conditions and design, and many other factors could have played significant roles, yet many are are overlooked during a "by the book" investigation.
Some may not think such careful scrutiny is necessary since "workers' comp will probably handle it." It may provide the victim's loved with some assistance, but it's still critical to find out exactly what happened and why. Here's a couple of reasons for that:
- It’s a matter of principle. It stands to reason that after an accident, the responsible party should bear the costs of the damages.
- Workers' compensation is not a magic cure-all. Its benefits never approach what victims earned before they were hurt, creating a net loss that can be problematic as they and their families struggle to recover. It's certainly better than no help at all, but countless people have been frustrated by its limitations.
- Workers' comp is not automatic in Texas. Unlike every other state in the U.S., Texas allows companies to "opt out" of the program. Some companies with few employees or low risk of injury choose to do so to save money. Most trucking firms enroll because the work is physically demanding and people can get hurt, but enrollment must be verified instead of just assuming the program will step in after a crash.
That's just a handful of reasons to ensure thorough investigations are conducted. The best way to do that and keep the companies involved from passing the buck between them is to learn the whole story as told only by objective facts. It's hard to say whether law enforcement is up to finding them all, though, which is why I generally advocate for independent investigations to make sure the accident is best understood. Those affected deserve to know every effort was made to bring them the whole truth and that the right parties will be held accountable without enduring years of courtroom back-and-forth.