We recently resolved a case the day before trial for a significant eight figure insurance policy limits settlement. The case had been litigated for over 4 years because of the courts being shut-down due to Covid. This tragic case involved the death of a father who was crushed and pinned in his pick-up truck for over an hour while first responders worked to free him. Unfortunately, he died from his traumatic injuries before he could be transported to the emergency department for hospital trauma care.
What Exactly Happened in This Case?
The accident occurred as he was traveling on a state road after exiting to the interstate due to a traffic jam. The state road was a narrow two-lane road with a posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour. Involved in the traffic jam on the interstate were many vehicles, including multiple tractor trailers. Despite the heavy traffic and posted speed limit, the semi-trucks were exceeding this limit riding the bumpers of other cars and trucks on the road.
One large truck driver grew frustrated with the pace of the traffic and pulled into the left oncoming traffic lane and attempted to pass another semi and our client’s truck. An oncoming vehicle in the left-hand lane forced the semi to cut back over into the right-hand lane to avoid a head on collision. Unfortunately, our client’s pick-up truck was struck by the semi on the driver side as it veered over. The impact forced our client’s vehicle off the road, onto the shoulder and into the back of a car that had pulled over to the side so the mother that was driving could change her baby’s diaper. Thankfully, the mother and baby were unharmed. Our client, however, was not so lucky.
To avoid the full impact into the back of the parked car, he veered sharply to the right causing his truck to impact head-on into an embankment along a creek running parallel to the road. The impact was so forceful that the entire front of the truck was pushed into our client’s chest causing him to sustain severe trauma to his internal organs and making it nearly impossible to breath, yet he remained conscious.
Several good Samaritans ran to the truck and attempted to free him but were not able. It took the fire department almost thirty minutes to arrive at the scene due to the remoteness of the location and the traffic jam that was occurring on the highway and on the state road. Once they arrived, they worked quickly to use the jaws of life to free him. Although they were successful, the force of the impact proved to be too much, and he died before they were able to place him into the ambulance to have him airlifted by helicopter to the hospital for treatment for his injuries. The impact had broken multiple ribs which had pierced his lungs causing him to develop a pneumothorax which led to him asphyxiating as the pressure suffocated him.
How Our Team Was Able to Help Win His Family a Settlement
Our team interviewed over 30 witnesses that described the reckless driving behavior of the semi-truck driver in his attempt to pull around traffic as well as dozens of witnesses that were on the scene trying to free our client as he slowly died in his truck. He left behind a wife of 10 years and a small child. It was a heart-wrenching, tragic case.
We brought claims against the truck driver, his employer, and the logistics broker responsible for arranging the transport. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations holds brokers liable for negligently hiring a trucking company. In this case, the trucking company and driver had a history of reckless driving and safety violations. We were able to prove that they were only hired to save money and maximize profits for the broker. It was profits versus safety which always results in tragedy.
We retained experts in accident reconstruction, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Broker liability, commercial driving license training, biomechanics, emergency medicine, forensic accounting, neuropsychology, and road construction/ engineering. The driver and his employer offered us their full limits of insurance after we took the first deposition. The insurance carrier for the broker fought us every step of the way to avoid liability. We refused to back off our demand for the full limits of the insurance policy due to the massive amount of proof we had developed to prove their reckless conduct in hiring the trucking company. It was not until the day before trial that the insurance company came to their senses and offered us the full policy.
This case resonated with every member of our firm. It became very personal to secure justice for our client’s wife and child to ensure they were financially protected since he was the sole earner for their family. In addition, it was important for them and us to ensure that the broker was forced to take responsibility for their actions so they would be more diligent and careful in their selection of trucking companies and make safety their priority in the future.