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Tragic Wrongful Death Case Reminds Trucking Companies Operating in New Mexico and Elsewhere to Properly Maintain Tractor-Trailers

Posted in Firm News

A Texas jury has awarded the family of an oil worker who was killed by an allegedly improperly maintained tractor-trailer $281 million. In Estate of Carlos Aguilar v. Heckmann Water Resources et. al., the family of Army veteran Carlos Aguilar filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Heckmann Water Resources, Inc. and a big rig driver in connection with a May 2012 Eagle Ford Shale accident that resulted in Aguilar’s untimely death. According to the lawsuit, Aguilar was riding as a passenger in a pick-up truck traveling on FM 133 in Dimmitt County when the drive shaft of a Heckmann Water Resources truck suddenly broke off, flew through the windshield of the passenger vehicle, and struck Aguilar. Sadly, the force of the trauma killed Aguilar.

At trial, Aguilar’s family argued that the fatal incident occurred as a result of Heckmann Water Resources’ failure to properly maintain the 18-wheeler. Although jurors stated the tractor-trailer driver was not responsible for the accident, they determined the company itself committed negligence. As a result, the Dimmitt County jury issued an award of $181 million in compensatory and $100 million in punitive damages. In general, punitive damages are awarded to punish especially egregious behavior or to discourage similar behavior in the future. The parent company of Heckmann Water Resources, Arizona-based Nuverra Environmental Solutions, has stated it plans to appeal the jury’s verdict.

Despite the $281 million jury verdict, the trucking company’s liability insurance is reportedly only $16 million. In general, trucking companies operating in New Mexico carry at least $1 million in insurance coverage. As this case shows, however, truck accident victims or their survivors may incur significantly higher damages. Because of this, a tractor-trailer crash victim may have the ability to recover damages by way of a trucking company’s assets in addition to any payments made through a liability insurance policy.

New Mexico truck accidents often involve unique and complicated evidence. If you suffered harm as a result of an accident that was caused by a negligent semi-truck driver or trucking company anywhere in the State of New Mexico, the Fine Law Firm can help. Our hardworking Rio Rancho truck accident lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience assisting the victims of big rig crashes across our state recover the financial compensation they deserve based upon the severity of their harm. To schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with a diligent advocate, please give the Fine Law Firm a call at (505) 889-3463 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Judge Discusses Expert Testimony Requirements in Fatal New Mexico Truck Collision Lawsuit, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, January 7, 2013
New Mexico Federal Court Discusses Duty Truckers Owe to Other Drivers in Truck Accident Lawsuit, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, December 26, 2013
Additional Resources:

Shale company ordered to pay $281M in wrongful death, by Guillermo Contreras,

Jury awards $281 million to family after Eagle Ford truck accident, by Sanford Nowlin, San Antonio Business Journal