Manuel Galindo was driving on State Highway 29 in Burnet in Central Texas at 6 a.m. on a freezing cold February morning in 2015. The visibility was poor and the road was icy. He could not see a tractor-trailer blocking all lanes of the highway and stop his van in time and was tragically killed. The truck driver had not put up the required reflective cones and was on his cell phone before the crash.
And this wasn’t the first crash the Dallas area trucker had caused. He had caused three other collisions while working for O’Reilly Auto Parts, where he was employed at the time of the deadly crash, and two other work-related collisions. He also was in a wreck in his own car and had two speeding citations on his record. And a driver had complained about him through the “”How’s My Driving?” phone number on the side of his 18-wheeler.
A Dallas jury awarded a whopping $37.9 million to the 42 year-old driver’s widow, two children, and mother last week. The company is certain to appeal.
Why was this dangerous driver still on the road?
Companies have a legal duty to hire, train, and supervise their drivers to insure that they are safe — and to discharge those who are not. The employer is required to conduct a detailed background check and maintain a personnel file under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, Section 391.51.
An investigation into the driver’s record would have uncovered a history of reckless driving, not to mention the incidents that occurred right under their nose. O’Reilly Auto Parts now knows the costs of shirking its responsibility.
What you should do if you see an unsafe driver
Unfortunately, O’Reilly Auto Parts ignored the warnings in its driver’s past employment records and the complaint made by a concerned citizen. Had the trucking company done the right thing, the hardworking father of two teenage girls might be alive today.
Besides calling the “How’s my driving?” number, you can also report safety violations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at 1-888-DOT-SAFT (368-7238) or on the FMCSA National Consumer Complaint Website to initiate an investigation of the company and driver.
What to do if you are injured by an unsafe driver
Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer if you were injured in a trucking accident, as companies try to shift responsibility onto the injured driver. This is very important because the amount of damages is reduced by the percentage of liability.
Berenson Injury Law has been advocating for Dallas-Fort Worth injury victims for the past 36 years.