Negligent Colorado Truck Driver Kills Four, Injures Six But Only Has $750,000 in Liability InsuranceOctober 2, 2019
A fatal truck accident in Lakewood, Colorado resulted in four deaths, six with catastrophic injuries, leaving 28 vehicles “incinerated.” The driver of the truck, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, was hauling lumber to San Antonio, eastbound on I-70 in Lakewood. Aguilera-Mederos worked for a Houston-based trucking company, Castellano 03 Trucking LLC. Over the past few years, Castellano 03 Trucking has had a number of federal violations for truck brake issues as well as for drivers who were not proficient in speaking and reading English—a requirement for truck drivers in the United States.
Truck Driver Driving 75 mph in a 45 mph Zone When Fatal Collision Occurred
Investigators believe Aguilera-Mederos was driving more than 75 mph in a 45-mph zone. Witnesses told police they saw the truck driving considerably above the speed limit around the Genesee exit, even forcing a pickup truck off the road at one point. Investigator John Doll also spoke with a witness who attempted to call 911 after she saw Aguilera-Mederos as she was driving into Denver from Evergreen. The witness stated the truck driver appeared out of control, but that she was put on hold, and by the time she got through to a 911 dispatcher, the fatal truck accident had already occurred.
Truck Driver Claims Brakes Failed
According to Aguilera-Mederos, he noticed his brakes were failing, then subsequently lost control of the tractor-trailer, however, the truck driver says he was only driving 45 mph at the time despite evidence that his speed was much closer to 80 mph. Aguilera-Mederos claims he attempted to maneuver the tractor-trailer onto the right shoulder in order to avoid the stopped traffic ahead of him, but that the shoulder was blocked by another semi-truck. The truck driver told police that at that point, he just “closed his eyes and crashed”—into 28 other vehicles, including four semi-trucks. A massive blaze and explosion resulted from the crash, preventing rescuers from getting near the vehicles from the time of the crash—4:50 p.m.—to nearly 10:00 p.m. that night. The four people who died were trapped inside their burning vehicles.
Truck Driver Charged with 36 Felonies
A witness who saw Aguilera-Mederos after the fatal accident said the truck driver asked nearby people if he could use their phones, and the witness heard him say “I’m going to jail.” In fact, criminal felony charges have been brought against him—six counts of first-degree assault, 24 counts of attempted first-degree assault, four counts of vehicular homicide by reckless driving, two counts of vehicular assault by reckless driving, two counts of violent crime causing death or serious bodily injury and one count of violent crime using a weapon. Thirty-six of the charges are felonies.
Castellano 03 Trucking Carries Insufficient Liability Insurance
Unfortunately, those injured from the collision who attempt to bring a lawsuit against Castellano 03 Trucking, could find there is simply not enough insurance to cover the deaths and catastrophic injuries resulting from the fatal truck accident. Under federal law, the company is only required to carry $750,000 in liability insurance—which is exactly what Castellano 03 Trucking carries. It is possible that Castellano 03 Trucking, which is a small trucking company with only five trucks, will declare bankruptcy, leaving the courts to decide who will get what. Five years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed a rule change which would have increased mandatory minimum liability insurance amounts for trucking companies from $750,000 to $10 million. In 2017, however, the attempt to change the rules died for lack of support. As a result, the minimum insurance requirements have not changed since the Motor Carrier Act of 1980.
In the end, while Aguilera-Mederos may be looking at decades in the Department of Corrections, his fate will not change the fact that people tragically died and were traumatically injured and now have no way to pay for wrongful death cost or medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering resulting from the injuries.
Getting the Help You Need Following a Truck Accident
Since we must share the roadways with large commercial trucks—and since we have little control over whether safety laws and mandatory liability limits are implemented by Congress—those involved in a truck accident almost always need help. Your client’s ability to get treatment for their injuries and assistance with their crash-related expenses can, unfortunately, be limited, however help can come from USClaims. At USClaims, pre-settlement funding can help your clients pay those unexpected truck accident expenses (including medical costs and lost wages) in anticipation of a court judgment or settlement. Call 1-877-USCLAIMS today for the information you and your clients need and deserve.