• January 16, 2017

Rose Contreras Killed, Josiah Contreras Hurt in Midland County, TX, Accident

Midland County, TX -- January 14, 2017, Rose Contreras was killed and Josiah Contreras was injured in an Midland, Texas truck accident.

The Texas Department of Public Safety responded to the accident scene in the morning hours of Saturday.

According to their reports, 43-year-old Rose and 16-year-old Josiah were traveling westbound on TX-158 in a Mazda CX9. As they did so, an eastbound tractor-trailer, driven by Adalberto Almanza, was reportedly driving at an unsafe speed. As it did so, the 18-wheeler hydroplaned, causing it to swerve into oncoming lanes. This caused a head-on collision between the truck and the car.

Due to the collision, Rose suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene. Josiah was transported to a hospital with serious injuries. Almanza's condition was unspecified.

Authorities did not say if any charges or citations were issued following the crash. Investigations are ongoing.

Map of the Area

Commentary

Looking at the details of this accident, the controversy seems to be whether the accident was caused by the truck driver's behavior or the poor weather conditions. I've seen a lot of accidents just like this one where a truck loses control during hazardous weather. Most of the time, the trucking company is going to blame the weather, saying there was no way to foresee the accident and that it was unavoidable. This may certainly be true, since weather can be unpredictable. But the main thing to remember here is that all drivers--regardless of whether they're professional drivers or non-commercial--have a legal duty to adjust their driving according to the conditions of the road.

When the roads are wet or there are heavy rains, truck drivers have a responsibility to slow their vehicle down. It's hard enough to get 18-wheelers to stop in dry conditions, so it's especially important that truck drivers take due diligence to drive with care in rainy conditions. If the truck hydroplanes and causes an accident, it needs to be determined whether or not the driver took the correct precautions.

Trucking companies and their insurers will tend to act like the puddle that caused the hydroplaning incident was the solitary puddle on a road that was otherwise as dry as a bone. It doesn't matter if it was raining cats and dogs that day, by the time their driver comes on to the spot, the road will be bone dry, except for that one puddle, a hold out, like the last person to buy a cell phone.

These cases don't devolve into baseless claims, because a theory of liability is only as good as the evidence that can be gathered to support it. One thing experienced truck attorneys will look at in these cases is the Electronic Control Module, or ECM. By looking at the ECM, investigators can determine many things about the truck, including its average speed between two points. So let's say the truck was traveling an average speed of 70 MPH from Point A to Point B. Then between Point B and the location of the accident, the truck traveled at an average speed of 45 MPH. That would suggest that the truck driver noticed the poor conditions and adjusted his or her driving accordingly. However, if the average speed didn't change, that would suggest that the truck driver didn't take precautions to maintain control of the truck during dangerous weather conditions.

Here's an example of why this could be helpful. We had a case once here in Texas where an 18-wheeler hit a car and killed someone. The truck driver kept a paper log of travel in which he recorded, among other things, the places which he arrived and when he arrived. On the log he recorded that he left Dallas and arrived in Houston over a certain amount of time. If his recordings were true, that would have meant he averaged over 100 MPH. So the truck driver faced a dilemma: either he was admitting that he drove at dangerous speeds or he was admitting that he lied in his log book.

By looking at hard data from the truck itself, it can be determined exactly how the truck behaved in the moments leading up to the crash. It may turn out that the truck driver took all the necessary precautions, and the accident was simply unavoidable. However, it could be that the truck driver did not account for the wet roads which caused the truck to lose control. If this is the case, then that evidence will be a necessary tool in assisting those affected by the accident seeking compensation for their pains. Truck drivers are held to a higher standard for driving their vehicles, because unlike the rest of us, they are thoroughly trained professionals. If they cause harm to someone through negligent actions, they need to be held accountable.

--Grossman Law Offices

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