February 13, 2020, would have been the 30th birthday of Saim Villalobos – if he had survived the fiery crash that took his life six years ago. Early in the morning, on his birthday in 2014, Saim set out for work. He was driving his Chevrolet Camaro down Highway 97. But he didn’t make it very far.
At the same time that Saim was headed west on his way into Cotulla, a large truck was traveling in the opposite direction, towards Los Angeles. It had a flatbed trailer and was carrying a road grader.
The two vehicles collided on this two-lane road and caught fire. The driver of the 18-wheeler was able to walk away from the accident without serious injury. But Saim lost his life that day – on his 24th birthday.
Because the Camaro and the freightliner were destroyed by the fire, investigators had trouble determining how the accident happened. They did rule out alcohol as a cause but speculated that driver distraction or fatigue could have played a role in the collision.
South Texas has seen tremendous growth in the last decade thanks to Eagle Ford Shale. While the oil and gas industry has provided a boost to the local economy, it does come at a price.
The roads around Cotulla are not well-equipped for big oilfield tankers and trucks. And, as in this case, it can be dangerous for motorists driving alongside them.
Did you know that these drivers are exempt from some of the federal laws that restrict the number of hours truckers can drive each day?
For example, truck drivers must not drive more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days, or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. Once a week, a truck driver is allowed one restart after 34 or more hours off. However, drivers who exclusively haul for oil and gas field operations are allowed a restart after only 24 hours off.
Oil and gas drivers also get exceptions for logging their waiting time as off-duty, and certain drivers can alternate their split break option. The details of these exceptions can be found in Section 390.3 and Section 395.1 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Saim’s tragic death is one of many accidents involving semi-trucks around Cotulla. If you or someone you love has been in a collision with one of these trucks, you need an aggressive lawyer on your side.
You see, even if you sue the individual who caused your accident, what you may not know is that there is an insurance company involved.
By law, attorneys cannot refer to the insurance company before a jury. But they are there, behind the scenes, working to undervalue your case.
They will do or say anything to get out of paying you what you deserve.
Jason DeSouza is an injury attorney for LaSalle county who will fight to get you the maximum compensation for your injury. And you pay nothing for his services unless he wins your case.
DeSouza Law Firm is a leading personal injury firm representing accident victims throughout Texas.
If you’ve been injured by a car, truck, 18 wheeler, company vehicle, or in the oilfield, call DeSouza Injury Lawyers today at 361-799-2222.