Our client Vanessia Clark suffered from a traumatic brain injury and severe neck and shoulder injuries after being rear-ended by an employee of CenterPoint Energy. Founding partner of VB Attorneys Vuk Vujasinovic has fought to hold CenterPoint Energy accountable for their gross negligence. Our team of Board Certified attorneys conducted an exhaustive investigation that revealed shocking safety violations and uncovered a deadly cell phone policy that’s putting everyone in our community at risk.
Life-altering injuries after violent rear-end collision
Vanessia was driving down a Houston freeway when the traffic ahead of her began to slow down, ultimately coming to a stop. At that moment, Mr. Montgomery, a seasoned employee of CenterPoint Energy driving a company truck, slammed into her from behind. The rear-end collision was so severe that Vanessia’s health and quality of life have been derailed forever.
Mr. Mongomery was driving a 4X4 Dodge RAM with dually tires and an extended bed with an iron toolbox; this truck is most commonly used by CenterPoint Energy employees in charge of patrolling oil and gas pipelines. While the exact speeds remain unknown, Mr. Montgomery was cited for failure to control speed by the Houston Police officers who arrived on the scene.
Vanessia was an extroverted and energetic woman who enjoyed waking up early to exercise, going shopping with her friends, and planning family events like baby showers and birthday parties. Unfortunately, her car accident has derailed her life forever. Today, she hardly leaves home, struggles to uphold her outgoing personality, and lives in mental and physical anguish.
As a result of the rear-end collision, Vanessia has a permanent brain injury and is at an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and dementia. Vanessia has four sizable herniated discs in her neck, an injury so severe that her neurosurgeon performed major neck surgery. Vanessia will live with chronic pain for the rest of her life. Her medical bills have amounted to over $350,000 and experts retained by VB Attorneys estimate millions in economic damages alone.
VB Attorneys investigates rear-end collision caused by CenterPoint Energy truck driver
Our team investigated the cause of the crash and uncovered gross negligence on behalf of CenterPoint Energy. Board Certified personal injury attorney Vuk Vujasinovic questioned Mr. Montgomery under oath, and he admitted to using his company cell phone at the time of the accident. Not only was Mr. Montgomery using a company cell phone while driving, but he was also attending a company WebEx meeting on the phone that required him to dial a ten-digit number, navigate through a virtual phone menu, and then enter a nine-digit meeting code.
At the time of the accident, Mr. Montgomery was driving a twelve-thousand-pound-plus company truck at highway speeds one-handed with his eyes off the road and his mind on a company meeting. Assuming he wasn’t speeding, Mr. Montgomery easily traveled eight-hundred-eighty feet (which is the length of over three football fields) one-handed and distracted before slamming into Vanessia. In an attempt to cover up the accident and absolve itself of liability, CenterPoint Energy chose to conduct a fraudulent investigation.
Through our investigation, it became alarmingly clear that CenterPoint Energy cared very little about safety. CenterPoint Energy did nothing to investigate the true cause of the crash and did nothing to reprimand Mr. Montgomery. Instead, CenterPoint Energy:
- Sent Mr. Montgomery to a state-run defensive driving course;
- Destroyed the black box of the company vehicle;
- Hid Mr. Montgomery’s phone records;
- Failed to test Mr. Montgomery for drugs or alcohol;
- Filed an accident report that failed to identify the root cause of the accident;
- And buried the accident under red-tape and bogus review boards.
CenterPoint Energy implements a dangerous cell phone while driving policy
Mr. Montgomery was a seasoned truck driver with over a decade of experience working for CenterPoint Energy. He has his Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and is certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Which begs the question, why would an experienced truck driver be using his cell phone while driving to dial in to, access and attend, a company meeting?
CenterPoint Energy verbally implements and enforces a dangerous cell phone while driving policy, allowing thousands of employees to drive around Houston and Texas while using their company cell phones without any limitation at all, putting everyone in danger every day.
As far as CenterPoint Energy is concerned, their employees are allowed, and even encouraged, to use their company cell phones without limitation while driving as long they have a Bluetooth device in their ear. Even after the accident, CenterPoint Energy’s certified safety representative said that he found nothing wrong with Mr. Montgomery’s conduct, noting that as long as he had the earpiece in and it was being used for work, “that’s okay.”
Ultimately, it boils down to their bottom line. CenterPoint Energy knows that their dangerous cell phone policy means that their employees can be more productive by conducting company business while driving. By forcing their employees to be in two places at once (like driving their truck and attending company meetings and other work-related calls), they can reduce costs and save money. Time-and-time again, we see multi-billion-dollar-companies like CenterPoint Energy prioritize profits over safety.
Injured by a CenterPoint Energy driver?
CenterPoint Energy has a net worth in the billions of dollars, they have thousands of trucks in massive fleets all around Texas, and they all can drive while talking on their company phones. CenterPoint has done nothing to update its policies or provide adequate safety training to its employees, and commuters and pedestrians in Houston and all over Texas are paying the price.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident involving a CenterPoint Energy truck, do not hesitate to contact our office. Click here or call 713-224-7800 for your free and confidential case evaluation.