• October 11, 2018

Man Injured in Houston, TX, Stalled 18-wheeler Accident on Katy Freeway

Houston, TX -- October 11, 2018, a man sustained serious injuries as the result of an accident where his vehicle crashed into the back of a stalled 18-wheeler along Katy Freeway.

According to information released by the Houston Police Department, the accident happened at around 12:30 a.m. off the intersection of Katy Freeway and Greenhouse Road.

Initial reports indicated that a man, currently unidentified, was traveling westbound along the Katy Freeway in a pickup. While doing so, his pickup somehow crashed into the back of a FedEx tractor-trailer which had broken down on the right shoulder. His pickup went partially beneath the trailer, sustaining serious damage.

Rescue teams extracted the pickup driver before transporting him to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. No one else was hurt.

At this time, police continue to investigate the factors leading up to the crash.

Map of the Area

Commentary

While there are many factors to consider here, the first one investigators will probably look into is whether or not the pickup driver was drunk. Quite frankly, Houston is just lousy with drunk drivers, and 12:30 a.m. is prime time for alcohol-related crashes. But I don't bring this up as baseless speculation. I bring this up because there could be an accomplice to this crash who needs to face consequences: a bar.

One of the reasons so many drunk driving accidents happen at this time of night is because people go out drinking at bars and then try to drive home. The problem is many of these bars serve their customers without any consideration of just how drunk they are; the more they sell, the better. Well, according to Texas law, that's illegal. Specifically, it is illegal to sell alcohol to someone who is obviously intoxicated. If a bar does so, and that person's intoxication leads to an accident, then Dram Shop Law allows victims and families to sue that bar for their contributions to the crash.

That may sound odd, but it's important that the law is nuanced enough to take everyone's actions into account. To that end, a truly prudent investigator wouldn't stop at alcohol. There are other factors which few people consider after an accident like this, and that's how the truck driver's actions may have contributed to the crash.

First of all, federal regulations require that 18-wheelers must place reflective devices behind their trailer at specific intervals if they have to stop on the highway. These devices are crucial for warning motorists of the obstruction--essentially a 40 ton boulder sitting on the side of the road. Especially at night, a trailer lacking these warnings creates an incredibly dangerous environment for drivers. It's difficult to say for sure, but I don't see any cones or flares in the crash scene photos. However what I do see brings up even more reason for concern.

The pictures show the pickup all but destroyed, mangled beneath the trailer. What really stands out though is the trailer's under-ride bar which seems to have folded in the impact. These bars are a necessary piece of equipment that helps mitigate the severity of rear-end impacts. Trucking companies are required to have them and also to maintain them properly.

What may shock some people is that I've litigated cases where these bars were completely rusted through and essentially useless. The sad reality is many trucking companies take the gamble of saving money on maintenance and hoping their lack of maintenance doesn't get someone hurt.

Now, even a properly maintained under-ride bar can only do so much. For one, they are only truly effective up to a certain speed, and they are primarily designed for flat, direct impacts, not vehicles that hit it at an angle. Still, the sheer damage resulting from this crash is cause enough to look into the part and make sure it functioned properly.

As you can see, what initially seemed like a regular old rear-end impact is actually incredibly complex. That's something everyone needs to keep in mind following an accident like this. There are countless factors to consider, and very rarely is only one person to blame. Hopefully all of these factors are considered so those affected by this crash know that all the contributions to the wreck are addressed appropriately.

--Grossman Law Offices

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