Though traffic fatality numbers have dropped over the past few years, Texas highways remain dangerous.
Among the latest of traffic fatalities, the survivors of a man from East Texas who died have just filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful death. The suit alleges that a truck driver acted with negligence when he backed up his truck and an attached flat-bed trailer against oncoming traffic, which caused a fatal traffic accident.
The accident happened in November 2012. According to the lawsuit, the driver of a Peterbilt truck which was hauling a flatbed trailer missed a turnoff in Franklin County. The driver continued approximately one mile and then backed up his trailer onto a county road, across oncoming traffic. He was maneuvering in the dark, after sunset, as a way to reverse course and go back the way he came.
The deceased, Dennis Smith, was driving in the lane of travel into which the truck had backed up. Smith crashed his vehicle into the trailer, and died as the result of his injuries.
The lawsuit states that it was difficult to identify the trailer’s location in the dark, as Smith approached. Smith’s surviving spouse, Karen Smith, filed suit both individually and on behalf of the Estate against the truck’s company, Michels Corp.
The Texas Department of Public Safety pursued an investigation of the accident and determined that the following “contributing factors” caused the wreck: the truck had “backed without safety” and that the driver exhibited “inattention.” The driver was charged with negligence, criminally negligent homicide, negligence per se and negligence proximate causation.
Karen Smith now seeks an award of damages for bereavement, grief, mental anguish, loss of consortium, physical pain, loss of service, loss of advice, loss of future financial contributions, loss of society and companionship, and expenses covering the victim’s medical care, his funeral and the burial expenses.
Statistics show that Texas traffic fatalities have decreased by as much as 15 percent since 2006, according to numbers compiled by the Texas Department of Transportation. According to the most recent numbers available, Texas saw 3,028 traffic deaths in 2010out of approximately 234 billion miles of traversed by cars, trucks and motorcycles on Texas roads and highways. That translates to just over 1.25 deaths per 100 million miles driven, compared to 2006, when Texas had an estimated 1.5 deaths per 100 million driven. The rate has fallen every year since 2006.
Still, Texas has higher traffic fatality numbers than most states; nationwide traffic fatalities are just over 1.10 incidents per 100 million miles driven.