An investigation into a March 2017 fatal accident revealed the truck driver who caused it was under the influence of several types of pills at the time of the crash. The truck driver, just 20 years old, crashed into a bus carrying senior citizen congregants of a Texas church who were coming back from a three day retreat. 13 people ended up dying as a result of the collision. The victims were between 61 and 87 years old.
The Texas Department of Public Safety, in addition to local police, responded to the accident scene. Investigators found five partially smoked marijuana cigarettes in the truck as well as two full marijuana cigarettes. The trucker admitted to having taken prescription pills which led investigators to believe he was under the influence. He admitted to taking Clonazepam, Ambien, and Lexapro. Other pill bottles were found in the truck as well.
The facts of the accident suggest the driver could have been under the influence. One witness was driving behind the truck and saw it driving erratically. For example, the trucker had crossed the center line several times. The witness was so concerned about the erratic driving that he called the local sheriff’s office to report what he was seeing and ask law enforcement to get the truck off the road before somebody got hit. Following this accident, the witness got out of his car to check on everyone. When he talked to the trucker, the trucker admitted to texting while driving and apologized multiple times.
Like most significant truck accidents, this one will be under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB is already on record that over the counter medications, prescription drugs, and illicit substances can all impair drivers and lead to more accidents, particularly when a driver mixes different substances. Drug use is becoming more of a concern as commercial trucks and transportation vehicles are more complex than ever.
Surviving family members of a deceased truck accident victim may be able to assert a wrongful death claim in civil court in the state where the accident occurred. All states, including Tennessee, have specific laws regarding who can bring a wrongful death claim in court and the damages to which surviving family members are entitled. Damages available in a Tennessee wrongful death lawsuit include but are not limited to the following:
- Medical bills incurred between the date of injury and date of death
- Loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral costs and burial expenses
If you have lost a loved one at the hands of an 18-wheeler, call the Tennessee truck accident lawyers of Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz. Surviving family members often face several hurdles before they can recover the compensation to which they may be entitled under the law. Large trucking companies put significant resources into defending injury claims which often leads to litigation before a case can be resolved. An experienced truck accident attorney can take steps to protect the victim’s legal rights, including working to prevent destruction of evidence like truck driver logs, maintenance records, and black box data. Our attorneys also understand when it may be necessary to retain an accident reconstruction expert, especially in contested liability cases where the trucking company points the finger at the deceased driver.