$410,000 Wrongful Death Settlement for Widow of Man Killed by Tractor-Trailer That Ran Off the Road on Black Ice | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our national truck accident law firm represented the estate of a man who died when a tractor-trailer struck his disabled car on the shoulder of a highway. The man had crashed when he hit a patch of black ice while driving to work before the sun came up.

The man was not injured in his own crash, and he called 911 to report the incident and request a tow. While he was waiting for emergency personnel to respond, he returned to his car to retrieve a few items. That is when an approaching tractor-trailer encountered the same icy spot on the highway.

The out-of-control truck struck the man’s car, killing him instantly.


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Key Legal Strategy

The deceased man’s widow hired our national truck accident law firm to pursue a wrongful death insurance claim. The insurer for the tractor-trailer driver argued that it did not have to pay because it believed that its policyholder did not act negligently.

The insurance company said that the truck driver could not know that the pavement was covered in a thin and — in the predawn hours — invisible layer of ice. Since the trucker had no reason to suspect a risk existed, the company reasoned, the truck driver had no duty to exercise extra care and caution.

To counter this, our truck accident and wrongful death attorneys pointed out that every driver should have known that rain had fallen overnight and that air temperatures were at or below freezing. Since the tractor-trailer operator likely had this knowledge and held a commercial driver’s license, our attorneys reasoned, the trucker should have been prepared to drive slower and act like he was operating in icy conditions.

Recognizing that our truck accident lawyers had the argument most likely to convince jurors in a civil wrongful death trial, the insurance company agreed to enter into a pretrial dispute resolution process called mediation. At the end of a full-day mediation session, the deceased man’s widow agreed to accept a $410,000 settlement.

CDL holders have a high legal duty to operate their trucks and big rigs safely in all weather and pavement conditions. Simply pointing out that people in their cars also struggled to maintain control and stay on the road after black ice developed should never be enough to excuse a commercial truck driver of responsibility for crashing and causing injuries or deaths.

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Staff: Staff attorneys