Virginia: Car Accidents – a Lawyer’s Trucks (April 25, 2014)

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Trial is the monthly magazine of the American Association of Justice (“AAJ”), formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association (“ATLA”). Its issue for April 2014 is entitled “Workplace Safety,” but also features in “Verdicts & Settlements” 2 noteworthy trucking accident cases.

In “Inadequate Truck Maintenance Policy Leads to Fatal Highway Accident,” a Texas jury awarded $281,000,000.00, including $100,000,000.00 in punitive damages, for the wrongful death of a 31 year-old Army veteran who incurred only $32,000.00 in pre-death medical expenses, whose lifetime earnings loss was $1,400,000.00, and who was survived by a wife, 7 minor children and 2 parents. The U-joint had failed on the tractor-trailer of the Defendant trucking company, which also had had the U-joints of 20 other trucks in its fleet fail due to known inadequate lubrication. Id. at 10.

In “Chain-Reaction Collisions Trigger Tunnel Fire, Killing and Injuries Motorists,” the wife and 2 children of a 39 year-old trucker recovered a total of $11,400,000.00 in multiple settlements, including $2,750,000.00 from the State of California predicated on allegations that the current (increased) posted speed limit was in excess of the original “design” limit for the 1959 tunnel. Since 11 truck drivers were named as Defendants and their insurers generally refused to settle with any individual Plaintiff, Plaintiffs’ counsel confederated, reached allocation agreements among their respective clients, and then demanded the $1,000,000.00 policy limits from all trucker insurers (8 of whom apparently tendered and paid). Id. at 12-13.

Mr. Waterman has been a member of ATLA/AAJ for over two decades. His wrongful death and personal injury practice of over 30 years includes vehicle accident, medical malpractice, sexual abuse, and other tort cases.