In 2015, a 16-year-old boy named Riley Hein was killed in an accident with an 18-wheeler. It was an accident that could have been prevented if the 18-wheeler that he collided with had underride guards. But because the semi-truck did not have this safety feature, Riley’s car wound up wedged underneath it and was drug for half a mile. The teen’s car then caught on fire, and he burned to death.
The accident took place in neighboring New Mexico. Riley was on his way to band practice in his Honda Civic. He was driving in the right lane of I-40 through Tijeras Canyon when the tractor-trailer veered out of its lane. It struck Riley’s Honda trapping it under the body of the tractor-trailer.
Riley’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Choptank Transport, GNB Trucking, and Barkandhi Express, as well as the state Department of Transportation. Later, Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co., which is the largest manufacturer of truck trailers, was also added to the complaint.
The family won their lawsuit and was awarded $42 million in August 2019. Before this lawsuit, the largest sum awarded for a side underride accident went to a Texas family for $36 million.
The Texas trial took place in Lufkin in 2006. And while the circumstances were different, the argument back then was tragically similar 13 years later – that tractor-trailers should install side-underride protection to help prevent these types of accidents.
Still, to this day, side guards are not required on tractor-trailers, even though the trucking industry admits that approximately 202 people die every year from these accidents. Not only does the industry know about the dangers of underride accidents, it actively fights against regulations to require protective side guards.
The American Trucking Associations argue that “one size doesn’t fit all.” And that “investments in certain technologies that one company makes may not make sense for another,” according to ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Daniel Horvath in a letter to House and Senate transportation committee leaders.
Although protective side guards would help save lives, they also cost money. And in the trial Riley Hein’s family exposed the fact that the trucking industry clearly prioritizes protecting their money over protecting innocent victims.
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you might be entitled to compensation.
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 or visit the firm online at https://jfdlawfirm.com/.