Multi-million dollar recovery in tractor-trailer accident
Tractor trailers present one of the biggest risks for all drivers on the highway and, unfortunately, our client found that out in very catastrophic circumstances. A big rig owned by a large national trucking company lost control on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania and struck our client causing severe lower body injuries to him. The injuries were so severe he ended up with amputations of both legs.
In the course of our investigation, we gathered key evidence from the truck’s engine control module, the so called “black box,” that was very helpful in making our case. We relied on accident reconstruction experts to decipher the “black box” data. Using the black box data and the knowledge of the reconstruction expert, we were able to plot the second-by-second movements of the truck and showed that it was very likely that the driver either fell asleep or was not paying attention and just lost control of the truck and slammed into our client.
We next gathered a great deal of information from the trucking company about their training program and how closely they were monitoring their drivers to see if they were driving beyond allowable limits as this always creates a danger of the driver falling asleep at the wheel. We discovered that the training and oversight of the drivers was very sparse and inadequate, and this may have contributed to the truck driver losing control of his vehicle.
Large interstate trucking companies are subject to federal regulations created by the Motor Carriers Safety Administration, and they cover a wide range of trucking activity, e.g. everything from hiring to training to hours of operation to drug and alcohol testing and much, much more. In any truck accident case, it is always important for the lawyer to check to see if the trucking company has violated any of those trucking regulations.
In addition to his severe physical injuries, our client suffered severe emotional trauma. In order to strengthen our case, we relied on a life care plan which projected the lifetime costs for all medical and counseling care that he would require throughout the many remaining years of his life. We also relied upon an economic expert to project the amount of wage loss he would experience throughout the rest of his life. We did this because in any case involving catastrophic injuries, it is important to project all economic impact of the injury throughout the lifetime of the person so that the jury has a full appreciation of the extent of the harm.
Equally important, if the injured person is married, it is critical to fully describe the impact of the injury on the victim’s spouse for purposes of proving a “loss of consortium” claim. Loss of consortium refers to all of the services and companionship that a spouse has lost in addition to the added stress and burden that the injury to one spouse places on another. In our case, the husband and wife had only been married a few years and had just given birth to their first child one year before the accident.