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Drug use cited as cause of fatal truck-bus accident

Each case of personal injury based on negligence has elements that are both common to other such cases and unique to it. As an example of how this works in practice, consider a recent news story from Murray County that involved a collision between a semi truck and a bus transporting members of the North Central Texas College women's softball team. The truck driver lost control of his vehicle, crossing the median on Interstate 35 and hitting the bus, killing four members of the softball team and seriously injuring five others.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the main cause of the accident was attributable to the drug use on the part of the truck driver, who allegedly ingested synthetic marijuana before getting behind the wheel on the date of the accident. Murray County prosecutors have charged the truck driver with four counts of first-degree manslaughter.

Although there is no indication that the relatives of the four women who were killed or the other five who were injured in the accident have filed any personal injury, wrongful death or survival actions against the driver of the truck or anyone else, aside from the alleged drug use on the part of the truck driver some of the facts identified by the NTSB could be relevant to a cause of action, including:

After the truck driver lost control, his vehicle traveled more than 1000 feet with no apparent evidence that he tried to apply the brakes or to steer away from entering oncoming traffic on the other side of the freeway;

Other potential factors, such as the experience of the drivers involved, fatigue, medical conditions, traffic hazards or weather conditions have all been discounted by the NTSB as primary or contributory causes; and the failure of any of the occupants of the bus to wear seat belts even though the bus was equipped with them.

If any of those injured in the truck accident or surviving family members or the estates of those who did not survive elect to pursue legal claims in connection with this accident, all of these facts and more will need to be taken into account by their personal injury attorneys when making the determination of the specific causes of action to be brought and who to name as defendants.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Truck driver in bus crash that killed four NCTC athletes was likely high on synthetic drugs, authorities say," Naheed Rajwani, Nov. 17, 2015

Secondary source: National Transportation Safety Board, public meeting of November 17, 2015

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