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Trucking company violated federal rules, settles with family

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


“Thank you for helping us through the hardest time in our lives.”

It started like any other day. Sonya was driving on Highway 59 with her two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter. Sonya noticed a problem with one of the tires on the family truck, so she pulled off onto the shoulder of the highway.

To ensure her kids were safe, Sonya pulled so far off Highway 59 that part of the truck was in the grass. Once she was sure her kids were safe, she called her husband, Justin, to come help. Justin was working in downtown Houston but immediately got on the road to come help his family.

Little did Sonya and Justin know what was about to happen: something that would change their lives forever.

That morning, a convicted felon was about to get behind the wheel of a massive 18-wheeler (in fact, the vehicle had 34 wheels). The driver’s truck was loaded to the point of overflowing with oilfield equipment. The driver, who had spent time in prison before being hired by the trucking company, was a known drug abuser. In fact, he had cocaine in his system that morning.

The driver recognized that the truck was overloaded beyond its legal permit and noticed that parts of the oilfield equipment were hanging so far off the trailer that the truck would take up multiple lanes of traffic and was beyond its permitted capacity. The truck pusher for the trucking company called the company’s executives to explain the situation to them and get instructions on what to do next.

Rather than stop the job and fix the load, management told the supervisor to “run it anyway.”

So a convoy of trucks started from near Victoria, Texas, and began making its way north on Highway 59, toward Sonya and her children.

What happened next was as unsurprising as it was tragic. The driver, in a convoy of trucks, passed Sonya’s disabled vehicle. Because his truck was overloaded beyond the legal permit, the oilfield equipment was hanging so far off the right side of the trailer that it smashed into Sonya’s truck and drug Sonya and her children almost two football fields down the highway.

Sonya and her daughter were badly injured. Sonya and Justin’s two-year-old son died at the scene of the accident.

Sonya and Justin hire VB Attorneys

Not long after the horrifically tragic accident, Sonya and Justin hired Brian Beckcom and Vuk Vujasinovic of VB Attorneys to investigate the accident and lead a legal team in a lawsuit against the trucking company and its insurance company.

Brian and Vuk sprung into action immediately, hiring professional engineers to preserve the evidence at the scene of the accident and to inspect the driver’s truck. As part of their investigation, Brian and Vuk also:

  1. Preserved all digital records from the trucking company’s website, in which they had received a number of complaints about their driver’s reckless driving habits. The trucking company subsequently tried to erase those bad comments to hide them from the family.
  2. Located additional, excess insurance on top of the $1,000,000.00 in insurance the trucking company initially disclosed to the family’s representatives.
  3. Obtained the police report, which, importantly, contained the driver’s unedited driver’s logs.
  4. Prepared and filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family along with extensive, detailed, and written questions to be answered by the trucking company and the driver.
  5. Located and took evidence from witnesses, including from a local preacher who testified that the wreck was 100% the driver’s fault.

VB Attorneys go to work

Brian and Vuk worked on the case together, combining their strengths in order to do battle with the billion-dollar insurance company and its experienced defense lawyers.

During the extensive investigation, Brian took the driver’s sworn deposition. Under questioning from Brian, the driver pleaded the 5th Amendment more than 10 times. More red flags were raised when Brian and Vuk compared the driver’s logs given to the police by the driver and the driver’s logs disclosed in the lawsuit by the trucking company. Brian and Vuk discovered that the driver and the trucking company had doctored the official driving logs in an effort to hide the fact that they were violating the federal trucking regulations.

Vuk took the depositions of the trucking company’s executives. Those depositions established that the trucking company violated its own rules and regulations by hiring the driver in the first place, failing to properly train him once they hired him, and failing to monitor him for hard drug use even though they knew that the driver had a history of abusing hard drugs. The executives’ depositions also revealed that they knew the driver’s truck was beyond its legal, permitted capacity and told the driver to drive the truck anyway.

Tornado Trucking settles lawsuit for a confidential amount

After spending hundreds of hours working on the case, investigating the trucking company thoroughly, and uncovering evidence previously hidden from public view, Vuk and Brian agreed to mediate with the trucking company and its insurance company. After the mediation, the trucking company and its insurance company opted to settle out-of-court rather than risk financial ruin in a jury trial.

The terms of the settlement are confidential. Although nothing will ever replace Hunter, Sonya and Justin have been able to make good use of the settlement by providing for their family and by helping with local charities.