Improper loading on large trucks can cause horrific trucking accidents that can result in serious injury or death. Motorists shouldn’t have to dodge large trucks because debris is flying off the back or the vehicle is swerving because the loads are off-balance.
A truck traveling at highway speeds can be thrown off-balance even even by a seemingly small object or boxes shifting inside.
In cases where improper loading causes a crash, victims deserve to be fully compensated to the greatest extent possible.
In the recent case of Walsh v. Mac Trucks Inc., plaintiff was representative of the estate of his deceased wife, who died after a large truck, equipped with after-market features, was improperly loaded and overturned, burying her in her vehicle in 50,000 pounds of sand and rock.
This happened in Pennsylvania back in January 2012. The 57-year-old decedent was slowing for traffic in her sport utility vehicle when the dump truck swerved and overturned on top of her.
Prior to the accident, the driver of the truck had the vehicle filled with sand and stone from a quarry in New Jersey. Plaintiffs alleged those materials were improperly loaded into the dump truck, violating Mine and Safety Health Administration training protocols.
Further, plaintiffs alleged the vehicle was defective because the frame of it did not have enough strength to support the load. It was also asserted the dump bed was defectively designed and there weren’t adequate warnings to let others know to steer clear.
Plaintiffs – the woman’s husband and her two adult autistic sons – alleged the quarry had no written protocols for loading the dump trucks for safe commercial transportation. Industry standards require such loads to be as level as possible and as low as possible. These guidelines weren’t followed in this case, expert witnesses testified.
As far as damages, this woman was essential not only to her family’s financial and emotional well-being, but to her community. She was a full-time caregiver for her two grown autistic sons, who required 24-7 care. She was also a well-known and valued volunteer in the autism community.
Her widower testified that he was forced to quit his full-time job to provide care for their sons. But doing so has proved a significant hardship. An expert witness for the state opined there are two options for the future:
Hiring an around-the-clock home health aid or putting them into a residential program. Both options are extremely expensive – somewhere between $8 million and $18 million for the rest of their lives. There is also the loss of household services, loss of consortium as well as pain and suffering and wrongful death.
Plaintiffs settled with several of the defendants prior to trial. For the remaining three – the driver, the driver’s employer and the quarry – jurors after a 9-day trial and five hours of deliberation ascertained 50 percent liability, 35 percent liability and 15 percent liability, respectively. For decedent’s pain and suffering and wrongful death, her estate was awarded $1.5 million. Survivors were awarded $9 million.
This case underscores that no matter whether a large truck is a tractor-trailer, dump truck, semi or garbage truck, the driver and the trucking company are responsible to ensure the load is secure so that other motorists are safe.
Most West Palm trucking accidents caused by unsafe loads happen when drivers aren’t well-trained, fail to check their loads regularly, drive recklessly or fail to properly secure their cargo.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Walsh v. Mac Trucks Inc., March 11, 2016, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
More Blog Entries:
Parr v. Breeden – Workers’ Comp. Sole Remedy in Truck Accident Death, June 21, 2016, West Palm Beach Truck Accident Lawyer Blog