Truck accident lawsuits over the past several years have yielded a high number of multi-million dollar recoveries for family members injured and killed in semi truck crashes.
As a prime example, lawyers point to a 2018 legal case in Texas against Werner Enterprises. Werner is one of the largest trucking companies in the U.S. In May of 2018, a jury in Harris County District Court found Werner Enterprises negligent in a 2014 fatal crash. In one of the biggest judgments made against Werner, the jury awarded an $89.7 million verdict to the family involved in the crash. Werner plans to appeal the decision. However, the company set aside a minimum of $10 million for amounts not covered by insurance.
Attorney Eric Hageman, who heads Pritzker Hageman’s commercial truck litigation, said the case demonstrates the importance of detailed, independent accident investigations and skilled court action by private lawyers.
“The family hired lawyers to discover the truth,’’ Hageman said. “The lawsuit proved negligence by the trucking company and the jury didn’t waver in providing for the victims.’’
Fatal Semi Truck Crash on I-20 Near Odessa, Texas
According to media accounts, the lawsuit revealed that the Werner driver was inexperienced and driving too fast for icy conditions. The crash happened on Interstate 20 near Odessa. Plaintiff Jennifer Blake and her children were riding in their pickup truck driven by family friend Zaragoza Salinas. In the crash, the pickup truck went off the road and slid across the freeway’s grassy median toward the oncoming semi.
It is undisputed that impacts from the heavy truck killed the family’s 7-year-old boy and caused catastrophic brain injuries to his 12-year-old sister. The children’s mother and their 14-year-old brother were also injured. Police officers at the scene did not place blame on the truck driver nor cite him for any violations.
Werner Semi Truck Lawsuit
The lawsuit showed that Werner did not allow the student truck driver access to basic safety equipment. Therefore, the driver was not alerted to the dangerous road conditions at the time. According to testimony, Werner did not communicate a National Weather Service warning about the poor conditions to the driver. Additionally, Werner allowed the driver to average more than 60 mph while carrying a Just-in-Time load. Because Werner expects drivers to provide 100% on-time delivery, the company allowed him to drive unsupervised in hazardous conditions.
Rising Truck Settlement Quotes
At least six cases resulted in a verdict or settlement of $20 million or more since 2011. It started in Georgia with $40.2 million awarded by a jury to the widow of a man killed by a commercial truck driver who ran a stop sign. That award later increased to more than $55 million and the case ultimately settled for $42 million.
In 2013, a jury in Texas awarded $281 million to the family of a man struck and killed by a truck’s drive shaft that detached and smashed through the trailing vehicle’s windshield. The jury determined that the truck was improperly maintained and the judgment later reduced to $105 million. The case settled after that for an undisclosed amount.
In the famous Walmart semi truck crash of 2014 that killed one person and seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan, the children of the man who died received $10 million.
Insurance Coverage for Trucking Companies
Federal law requires trucking companies to cover drivers up to $750,000 per accident. Many trucking companies self-insure themselves up to around $1 million and then buy tiers or layers of outside insurance to cover additional exposures or costs.
Get Legal Help
When semi trucks crash into passenger vehicles, the people most at risk are in cars, pickups, SUVs and motorcycles. It is important for survivors to speak immediately to a truck accident lawyer. An attorney experienced in large commercial truck cases will best know how to deliver results for the devastated family.