Two Injured in Dual Semi-Trailer Accident on U.S. 259 in Rusk County, TX
Rusk County, TX — November 14, 2023, two people were injured following a dual semi-trailer accident at around 2:41 a.m. along U.S. Highway 259.
According to information from authorities, the crash happened along southbound lanes of the highway near the County Road 3207 intersection.
Officials said that a 56-year-old man was in an International semi-truck with a trailer going along U.S. 259. Up ahead, there was a previous crash scene. Statements say that crash involved a 67-year-old man in a Peterbilt semi-trailer combo that apparently lost control. This caused the second 18-wheeler to crash into a guardrail and overturn, blocking both lanes of travel. It appears the overturned tractor-trailer did not have lights on, and the International semi driver couldn't see the wreck in time to avoid it, resulting in a second crash between the two 18-wheelers.
Following the accidents, both truck drivers had injuries which were described as serious. There did not appear to be anyone else involved in the two crashes. Authorities indicated there was a recommendation for a charge of failure to maintain lane against the driver involved in the initial rollover. This and other information cannot be confirmed at this time.
Looking at this crash, it illustrates a common misconception people have about the law. Many people think that a person must be blameless in order to hold someone accountable for their injuries. Now, there are some states where this is true, but it's not how the law in Texas works. It also illustrates a problem with police investigations. Let's address both issues.
According to reports, authorities appear to believe that both drivers contributed to this crash. They blame one truck for failing to drive in a single lane and then turn around and blame the other driver for contributing to the crash due to the reduced visibility caused by the first truck jack-knifing. Now, from where I sit, there may be a case of an investigator taking his job a bit too literally. While there are instances where it's proper to blame reduced visibility for causing a crash, it doesn't pass the smell test when it's another vehicle that causes the reduced visibility. It's a bit like blaming a person for bleeding on the floor after another person punched them in the nose. Yes, technically they were the source of the blood, but only because someone else acted first. It's an example of logic applied so rigorously that it leads to absurdity.
This isn't just me nitpicking, because this type of thinking has real-world consequences. It discourages victims from holding wrong-doers accountable because they believe they must be blameless in order obtain justice. Further, it's not how the law works in Texas. Over the years, I've litigated hundreds of cases and in most of those cases, the parties involved each shared some blame for what happened. They were still actionable cases because even though my clients shared some blame, the lion's share rested with the other party. As a rule, the law doesn't let someone get away with a big wrong, just because another person made a ticky-tack mistake. That's why the law instructs Texas juries to weigh every party's responsibility for an incident and portion out blame accordingly. The person who really screws up, generally, gets a larger share of the blame than someone who made a minor mistake.
Does it make it harder for victims when a too literal police investigation points the finger at them and the wrongdoer? Sure, it makes it more difficult. But if holding wrongdoers accountable after a crash was easy, then we wouldn't need a court system.