The spotlight was placed on commercial trucking safety after a jury in New Mexico awarded the family of a driver killed by a reckless truck operator $58 million, which includes $47 million in punitive damages, according to lawyersusa.com.
The tragic wreck was the result of a 13-hour shift by a new big rig driver hired to haul water used in the oil industry. The truck driver negligently steered his 18-wheeler to the left without yielding and plowed into the victim’s vehicle, which ultimately led to his death.
The at-fault big rig operator was on the job for only six months when the tragic accident occurred. It turns out that he did not get certified instruction on what to expect when driving a tractor trailer of such a large size. Those instructions include safe stopping distances, reaction times and night driving.
The industry standard under federal Department of Transportation guidelines is to provide a 12-week training program to a new truck driver. The driver in this case did not get this extensive training.
The wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company revealed that it had a history of continuous safety violations, poor training of new big rig drivers and a pay structure that encouraged commercial truck driver to rush to reach their destinations. For example, the trucking company reportedly ran up twice the number of citations compared to the national average.
If that wasn’t enough, the jury took the rare step of making a statement on the record about trucking safety – the jury declared that “our hope is that our judgment will clearly communicate that we expect a much higher standard of safety and training in the trucking industry.”
The Virginia Injury Lawyers’ Perspective
We agree wholeheartedly with the jury’s declaration and ultimate decision. An innocent man trying to get home from work had his life cut short due to the negligent and careless practices utilized by this trucking company. A signal needed to be sent that running a trucking company so recklessly will not be tolerated.
Congratulations to the attorneys who represented the plaintiffs in this case.
Our Virginia truck accident injury law firm understands just how difficult these types of cases can be. For example, we represented a victim who suffered a life-altering brain injury after a Norfolk Southern train crashed into his place of work. After a lengthy trial,we were able to secured a record-setting $46 million jury verdict ($60 million once interest was calculated).
We’ve also handled major truck wreck injury cases. For example, we secured a $21 million structured settlement for a child who suffered a permanent brain injury after a tractor-trailer crashed into her family’s vehicle.
Securing these types of verdicts and settlements is not easy. They’re the result of diligent effort, hiring the right medical experts to explain the severity of an injury, and not having the fear the take a case all the way to trial.