Subject: Verdicts & Settlements August 13, 2007: Trucker suffers amputation, shoulder injuries in accident

Pub: Virginia Lawyers Weekly

Author: Virginia Lawyers Weekly Staff

Category: Justice,Employment

Sub-Category: Courts

Issue Date: 08/13/2007      Word Count: 558

Verdicts & Settlements August 13, 2007: Trucker suffers amputation, shoulder injuries in accident

by Virginia Lawyers Weekly Staff

Dolan Media Newswires


RICHMOND, VA -- Plaintiff was a 29-year-old tractor-trailer driver who had recently started a new job making day trips from a local industrial plant to shipping ports within a day's drive of the plant. Defendant construction company was working under a multi-million dollar contract on one of the major interstates in Virginia.

On the day of the incident, the defendant company was in the process of moving a large steel template used in bridge construction on a flatbed tractor trailer. The load was too high to clear the interstate bridges and was not sufficiently secured. Despite knowledge of the height and unsecured condition of the load, it was driven onto the interstate highway.

Plaintiff was driving his tractor-trailer in the lane adjacent to, and behind, the loaded tractor trailer as it went under a bridge. Part of the flatbed's load struck the bridge, and a large steel beam was thrown from the truck, landing in the road in front of plaintiff's truck. Plaintiff had no opportunity to avoid the beam, and after striking the beam, his truck overturned and rolled down the interstate highway.

Plaintiff was transported by helicopter to a nearby hospital. Surgeons attempted to salvage plaintiff's lower left leg, but after several initial procedures, it was determined that a below knee amputation would be required. After extensive therapy, plaintiff was fitted with a below knee prosthesis. He also sustained a brachial plexus injury and was referred to a specialist at the University of Virginia for surgery.

Even after surgery, however, Plaintiff had permanent deficits in the C5 and C6 nerve roots which affected some of his shoulder and upper arm function.

Prior to the accident, plaintiff had been a very independent young man who spent much of his time outdoors.

During the course of investigating the accident, plaintiff determined that two employees were involved in loading and moving the steel beams on the day in question. Plaintiff also learned that one of these individual employees had told the investigating officer that plaintiff was traveling at 75-80 mph prior to the accident. Counsel included these individual employees as defendants, and since one of these employees lived in a preferred venue in Virginia, plaintiff was able to file suit in that locality. Defendants attempted to transfer venue back to the location of the incident, but the motion was overruled.

Plaintiff's physicians and the vocational expert were prepared to testify that plaintiff was permanently disabled. Plaintiff also asserted a punitive damage claim based largely upon evidence that defendants were aware of the height and the unsecured condition of the load.

The parties agreed to engage in mediation approximately three weeks before trial. At mediation, defendants argued that plaintiff's damages were less than claimed and relied upon the fact that plaintiff was still able to engage in most of his previous activities. Defendants indicated they would admit liability and make every effort to limit the specific evidence of defendants' conduct on the day in question. After a full day of mediation, defendants made an offer and plaintiff accepted the offer. The case was settled under strict confidentiality terms.


Copyright 2008 Dolan Media Company.  All rights reserved.

Putting the Brakes on Unsafe Trucking Companies