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Accident involving 18-wheeler 'shears off' 26-year-old woman's brain

Brandi Grissom, writing for the Texas Tribune, describes the life of 26-year-old Michelle Gaines, whose mental capacity (after getting hit by an 18-wheeler in 2006) was reduced to the level of a 12-year-old.

It almost goes without saying that Gaines was quite a different person prior to the accident. Grissom quotes Gaines's father: "It's as if my daughter died that day, but God gave me back another one that I love and cherish just as much as the first one."

What happened on June 11, 2006, is a plain example of truck driver negligence. The driver of the 18-wheeler blew a red light and crashed into the car driven by Gaines. Part of Gaines's brain was "sheared off," Grissom writes, in the wreck. Gaines spent half a year in the hospital in a coma.

It's not exactly clear why the driver of the 18-wheeler ran the red light, but lawyers representing the injured woman claimed that the brakes were defective and that the driver did not have a valid driver's license.

Gaines brought an action against the driver, rig owner, and the owner of the equipment yard to which the rig was en route at the time of the accident. At trial, the jury awarded Gaines $8 million, but that verdict was recently overturned by the appeals court, which reasoned that the equipment yard owner was not liable, though there appeared to have been plenty of circumstantial evidence implicating him in a "joint enterprise" involving the rig.

As Grissom reports, the lawyer representing Gaines said, "It has long been the story of humans that when they get caught doing a bad act, they lie about it and hide what they've done."

Source: A Tragic Accident and a Continuing Legal Battle

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