Adult Son of Commercial Truck Driver Killed on Interstate Shoulder Receives Confidential Wrongful Death Settlement | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia wrongful death law firm represented the adult son of a commercial truck driver who died after being hit by a tractor-trailer on the shoulder of I-81. The deadly truck crash happened during foggy, rainy conditions in Shenandoah County, VA.

According to undisputed facts taken from the police report and witness accounts, the truck driver who lost his life decided to get out of the cab of his own semi after his co-driver struck another vehicle and pulled over to the side of the interstate. As the man exited the cab, a second tractor-trailer ran off the side of the road after its driver struck a different vehicle.

The second tractor-trailer then struck the first and ignited a fireball. The man who lost his life was hit by the second semi and engulfed by flames. He died almost instantly.

The man’s ex-wife, acting on behalf of the man’s adult son who lives with intellectual disabilities, hired our Virginia wrongful death law firm to secure monetary compensation and damages from the insurance company for the driver of the second semi.


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Key Legal Strategy

Securing a wrongful death settlement for our client required us to prove that the truck driver who died did not cause the collision and fire that killed him. Our Virginia wrongful death attorney did this in a number of ways.

First, he obtained the accident report prepared by the Virginia State Police and studied what the troopers recorded about each of the tractor-trailers and other vehicles involved. Details about the trucks’ and passenger vehicles’ lights, brakes and tires can all provide valuable information about why a deadly wreck occurred. This is exactly what happened in this case, as police investigators found balding tires and inoperative lights on the tractor-trailer that struck the one in which the deceased man had been riding.

After making this discovery, our Virginia wrongful death attorney consulted with an expert in accident reconstructions and reviewed professional standards for commercial truck drivers. The purpose of these efforts was to determine what responsibilities the semi operators had given the prevailing traffic and weather conditions and whether either of the drivers violated those responsibilities.

Evidence indicating that the operator of the second semi did fail to exercise extreme caution while driving through an area of poor visibility gave our Virginia wrongful death client a strong claim. Then, to figure out how much money in compensation and damages our client was due, our attorney hired an economist to calculate how much the deceased man’s intellectually disabled son had depended on his father for financial and emotional support. Videotaped statements from the son’s friends and other family members also established that a strong bond had existed between the deceased man and his son.

All the evidence gathered by our Virginia wrongful death lawyer led the court to order the defendant’s insurance company to enter into pretrial mediation. This process yielded a confidential settlement that the deceased man’s son, and the son’s mother acting as his legal guardian, found acceptable.

Commercial truck drivers face as many risks from reckless and negligent drivers as everyone else on Virginia highways. When the worst happens, we will make every effort to ensure that the family of a truck driver killed in a crash caused by someone else receives a fair and adequate insurance settlement.

Court and Dates: Filed in Richmond Circuit Court and later moved to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg, April 2010

Staff: Staff attorney