Lawsuits Pile on After Commercial Truck and School Bus Crash Kills Two and Injures Dozens Others

Jay Janner/American-Statesman Photo Source: Jay-Janner/American-Statesman

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against a commercial truck driver and his employer after the truck struck a school bus. The accident killed two individuals and injured many others in the Hays Consolidated Independent School District.

The fatal crash happened on March 22 in Austin, Texas. The school bus was loaded with 44 pre-k students and 11 adults from Tom Green Elementary and was on its way back to school from a field trip to a nearby zoo. The bus was traveling west on the Texas 21 highway when a commercial concrete truck traveling east on the highway veered out of its lane, colliding with the school bus, and causing the bus to roll over.

The crash killed five-year-old Ulises Rodriguez Montoya and Ryan Wallace, 33, and left many other students and teachers injured. Wallace was not on the bus, but driving a car behind it when the accident happened. A recently release dashcam video of the crash shows the horrifying events unfolding.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the driver of the concrete pump truck, including a personal injury complaint filed by Victoria Limon, a mother who was on the bus with her daughter. Limon says the accident left her with injuries to her back and other parts of her body. Limon’s daughter is listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, but not named, and is said to be suffering injuries to her head and body. Neither the mother nor the daughter have recovered from their injuries.

Limon is represented by attorneys from the Scott Hendler Law Firm, and her complaint is seeking damages of $1 million. Her lawsuit names the truck driver, Jerry Hernandez; the concrete company, FJM Concrete LLC and FJM Concrete Pumping LLC; and the owner of the concrete company, Francisco Xavier Martinez Jr.

A group of seven students and one parent have also filed a lawsuit against Hernandez and the trucking company. Their lawsuit is seeking damages of $1 million as well for injuries sustained. The lawsuit accuses Hernandez of negligence for driving while under the influence.

After the accident, Hernandez admitted to investigators that he was using cocaine in the morning the day of the accident. Records show that Hernandez failed drug tests in 2020, 2022 and 2023. After starting work with the construction company, Hernandez did not undergo a background check, according to reports.

Limon’s lawsuit also highlights what it calls Hernandez’s gross negligence. Her lawsuit explains, “Hernandez had a duty to act as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstances,” and that “Hernandez breached this duty and was negligent when he decided to operate his vehicle in an unsafe manner, failed to maintain a safe speed, crossed into a lane designated for travel in the opposite direction, took faulty evasive action, drove while intoxicated, and failed to keep a proper lookout.”

Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.001 defines gross negligence as actions that fall between unreasonable conduct and full-blown criminal intent. When filing a gross negligence claim, plaintiffs must prove ordinary negligence along with two additional elements:

  • A defendant's actions involved a high level of risk considering the probability and magnitude of harm to other individuals.
  • The defendant knew the risk but acted without indifference to the safety, rights, or welfare of others.

Earlier this month, Hays CISD issued a statement responding to the mounting lawsuits. The statement reads in part, "Hays CISD is aware of the lawsuit filed against FJM Concrete and its pumper-truck driver. The school district and the entire community stands with the victims in the bus crash. The district further concurs with the sentiment captured in the lawsuit’s description that this crash has wreaked, 'havoc and destruction on the best and most innocent in our world,' and that the allegations of the level of negligence that are presented against the defendants in the suit, 'truly shocks the conscience.'”

The Hays statement also recognized the likelihood of additional legal action. "This will be the first of many actions to come. This crash is a life-taking and life-changing catastrophe; and, it is the district’s fervent hope that all of the victims can be made as whole as possible through both the criminal and civil processes that are unfolding."

Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate from James Madison University, where she studied English and Education. Residing in Central Virginia with her husband and two young daughters, she balances her workaholic tendencies with a passion for travel, exploring the world with her family.
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