Dimmitt County, TX- A Texas jury has awarded the family of a man who was killed a stray part from a tractor-trailer, $281 million in a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit.

Carlos Aguilar, a U.S. veteran, was working at the Eagle Ford Shale in May of 2012 when he was killed. Aguilar was a passenger in a pickup truck riding behind a tractor trailer which was owned by Heckman Water Resources. The personal injury lawsuit stated that the drive shaft from the tractor-trailer came fell off and went flying into the windshield of the pickup. Aguilar was struck by the drive shaft and was killed instantly.

The lawsuit initially named Heckman Water Resources and truck driver Ruben Osorio Hernandez in the suit but the Dimmit County jury, found no negligence of Hernandez’s part and he was dropped from the suit.

However, the jury found that Heckman Water Resources was negligent and that as Aguilar’s family stated in the lawsuit, they failed to properly maintain the tractor-trailer and was responsible for Aguilar’s death.

The jury’s verdict included $100 million in punitive damages and $18 million in compensatory damages, according to the San Antonio Business Journal.

Nuverra Environmental Solutions, which is Heckmann’s parent company based out of Phoenix, Arizona, said they plan to appeal the decision.

“While we are highly sympathetic to the deceased and his family for his unfortunate passing, we believe based on input from our legal advisors and consultants, both trial and appellate, that this recent award exceeds well-established judicial norms and precedent by a staggering margin,” Nuverra CEO Mark Johnsrud said in a prepared statement, as reported by the San Antonio Business Journal.

That is an unusually large settlement, but it shows the risk trucking companies face when their vehicle are not properly maintained or repaired. Mechanical failure is the leading cause of commercial truck accidents nationwide.

Truck accidents in the Eagle Shale Ford area have dramatically increased since the energy boom took hold. According to the San Antonio Express News, truck accidents increased from four in 2008 to 46 in 2011.

While some accidents caused by mechanical failure cannot be prevented, there are other incidents in which maintenance and repairs on commercial trucks could prevent a dangerous or deadly accident. When a truck has mechanical issues, even the most experienced truck driver will be unable to prevent an accident.

In a Fatal Causation Study conducted by the NHTSA between 2001 and 2003, inspectors found that 55 percent of trucks involved in injurious accidents had at least one mechanical failure. The same study also found that 30 percent of the trucks inspected had at least one out-of-service violation, yet they remained on the road.

Individuals who are injured in a truck accident involving mechanical failure can turn to a Texas truck accident attorney to file a personal injury of wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.  You will have a strong case that can result in a generous settlement when you enlist the assistance of a truck accident attorney.