Family Wins $19 Million Verdict After Fatal Crash Involving Semi-Trailer

The Hein family has secured a $19 million verdict in a court battle against a semi-trailer company following a tragic crash that claimed the life of their son, Riley Hein, a 16-year-old Manzano High School student.

As covered by krqe Riley was en route to band practice when a semi-truck veered into his lane, forcing his car off the road. The vehicle became lodged underneath the trailer, ultimately catching fire and resulting in Riley’s death.

The family’s lawsuit argued that the trailer’s lack of an undercarriage guard was a critical factor in Riley’s death. Such guards are designed to prevent cars from becoming trapped beneath trailers in collisions, potentially saving lives by reducing the severity of crashes.

According to accident reconstruction experts brought in by the family, the presence of an undercarriage guard could have transformed what was a fatal incident into a minor accident.

Despite regulations mandating rear guards on trailers, the installation of undercarriage guards remains optional, with the trucking industry citing cost concerns.

Advocates, including members of Congress like New Mexico senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, have pushed for legislation requiring these guards to be mandatory nationwide.

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Riley’s parents hope that their legal victory and the tragic circumstances of their son’s death will bring attention to the need for safer trucking equipment standards.

They emphasized that such crashes are preventable and that the industry’s resistance to implementing safety measures has resulted in countless deaths over the decades.

The family settled with the trucking company involved, which subsequently went out of business. Meanwhile, efforts continue to raise awareness and enact legislation that could prevent similar tragedies in the future.

This case underscores ongoing debates and efforts surrounding trucking safety regulations across the United States, highlighting the human toll of accidents involving commercial vehicles.

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