On September 8, 2015, at 5:00 a.m., a collision between two commercial trucks on Interstate 85 near Piedmont, S.C. took the life of a forty-year-old husband and father of four when the tractor trailer he was driving collided with the back of a sanitation truck that was broken down and sticking into the lane traveled by the tractor trailer. The explosion that resulted proved fatal for the driver of the tractor trailer. The driver of the sanitation truck was injured, but he was able to speak with law enforcement investigating the collision and gave his version – the only version available – of what happened that morning. The deceased driver was cited by the investigating officers as the sole contributing cause of the collision. Case closed.
That is until the widow of the tractor trailer driver, knowing his skill level and confident that the conclusion reached was wrong, made an appointment with Harrison White, P.C.
Still devastated by the loss of her husband and adjusting to raising their four children without him, she came to us with only a copy of the accident report and a request that we try to find out what happened. That was the beginning of a years long commitment to uncovering facts and proving things were not as they seemed. As is the case with most collisions involving commercial vehicles, extensive investigations were conducted by not just law enforcement but insurance companies and company representatives. We were able to gather enough information before filing a lawsuit, including video recorded interviews of witnesses, to conclude that our client’s husband did not cause the collision and that the broken-down sanitation truck struck by him would not have been sitting in an interstate lane of travel at 5:00 a.m. if its driver and the company for whom he worked had followed industry safety standards.
As expected, once a lawsuit was filed, the defendant company denied liability relying in large part on the accident report and the conclusions reached by law enforcement. We were able to establish through the course of discovery that some of the basic “facts” included in the report were simply wrong. Records obtained and depositions taken during litigation further revealed ongoing truck maintenance issues, prompting us to hire an expert in that field, in addition to the trucking safety expert already retained. Ultimately, our client reached a settlement agreement for $3.7 million dollars with the insurance company for the sanitation truck. Settlements do not make everything right. But in this case, it relieved the financial burden left by losing her family’s provider, and it vindicated a man who could no longer speak for himself.
I am proud of what we do. I care about the people we represent. Because a young widow was bold enough to ask for help, I was able to help. Don’t be afraid to talk to us.
Blog post by partner Wes Kissinger. Click here to learn more about Wes.
The posts on this website/blog are published as a service to our clients and friends. They are intended to provide general information only and should not be construed to be formal legal advice regarding any specific situation and should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. Success in the past does not indicate the likelihood of success in any future representation.