Fiery Semi Crash Blamed on Big Rig Parked Partly in Interstate Lane Merits $450,000 Settlement | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our client, who was driving a big rig with double trailers, suffered numerous broken bones and significant gastroenterological and urological injuries when he collided with a tractor-trailer that was parked along the side of a Virginia interstate.

The parked truck was partly in the right-hand travel lane of I-85 in Brunswick County, Virginia (VA). Our client was unable to move over or change lanes in order to avoid the collision because a third semi was traveling beside him in the left lane.

The force of the crash ejected our client from the cab of his big rig. Additionally, his tractor-trailer erupted into a fireball. His injuries left him partially disabled at the age of 43, and he was unable to resume working as a commercial truck driver.


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Key Legal Strategy

The insurance company for the parked truck attempted to deny all of our client’s personal injury claims by arguing that he contributed to causing the crash. If the insurer succeeded with this, our client would not be able to recover any compensation and damages because Virginia enforces a contributory negligence rule that bars recovery by anyone who is found to be even 1 percent at fault for causing his or her injuries.

Our Virginia truck crash law firm countered the insurance company’s contributory negligence argument by hiring a trucking safety expert who explained that our client had no opportunity to avoid the crash given the circumstance in which he found himself.

We also showed that the person the insurance company hired to reconstruct the crash scene relied on insufficient physical evidence from the site of the collision. The court subsequently disallowed all findings from the crash reconstructionist, essentially ruling that the person’s work constituted junk science.

Unable to claim that our client contributed to causing the crash or to show that the tractor-trailer it covered had moved completely onto the interstate shoulder, the insurance company entered mediation. That process resulted in a settlement before trial, and our client received a total of $450,000. The money came from both the insurer and our client’s workers’ compensation eligibility.

Personal injury and wrongful death cases related to large commercial truck crashes always get complicated. Click here to learn more about how our Virginia plaintiffs’ attorneys work to overcome obstacles to receiving insurance settlements and court awards.

Court and Date: Brunswick Circuit Court, Brunswick County, VA, February 2007

Staff: Staff attorney