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Wrongful death: Driver to be sentenced for fatal 2017 wreck

The National Transportation Safety Board recently released findings regarding a fatal 2017 wreck. The collision -- which involved a pickup truck and a Texas church bus -- left 13 people dead. In general, Texas has a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims, so family members who have yet to pursue legal action may choose to utilize the NTSB's findings if they choose to move forward with such claims. 

According to the NTSB report, the 20-year-old pickup truck driver was under the influence of both legal and illegal drugs at the time of the collision. He not only tested positive for marijuana after the March 2017 head-on collision, but apparently admitted that he had taken double his standard dosage of clonazepam, which he had a prescription for. The NTSB claims that this impairment was the main factor in the wreck, but the driver also told police he was texting behind the wheel. 

Witnesses reported seeing the truck driving erratically for at least 15 minutes before the driver drove head-first into the bus. There were 14 people on board, including the driver, and only one passenger survived. Inadequate safety features inside the bus also contributed to the high fatality count, and the NTSB released a recommendation that manufacturers install lap and shoulder belt combos in their medium-size buses rather than the standard lap belt. 

The driver was arrested and charged later that same year. In May 2018, he entered a plea of no contest on several charges of intoxication manslaughter, and is set to be sentenced in November. Reports indicate that he could be sentenced to up to 270 years behind bars. 

When a negligent driver causes a fatal wreck, surviving family members are left behind to pick up the pieces. Handling the overwhelming damages -- including unexpected funeral expenses -- can be a financial and emotional drain on these individuals. When successfully pursued to completion, wrongful death claims can yield necessary and just compensation on behalf of a victim's estate. Texas families who are unsure of where to start with their claim can utilize information gathered by local authorities or other agencies, such as the NTSB. 

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