Although statistics have revealed that a large number of truck collisions that transpire on U.S. roads are actually caused by other drivers and not the truck operators themselves, there are times when a trucker and/or a trucking company are, in fact, responsible for the occurrence of a collision. Generally, when a truck driver engages in a crash as a result of their negligent or reckless behavior, the company they are employed with can also be held liable, and oftentimes are.
If you’re wondering why a trucking company would be held accountable for an accident that was caused by one of its drivers’ negligent behavior, below are a few examples of recent cases where companies have been sued after a crash and have had to pay victims and/or their families for the damages suffered.
- Trucking company in Kentucky faces lawsuit after hiring a driver without giving him a pre-employment drug screen.
As Marie Garmon, 43, was heading home from a visit with a patient on September 7, 2012, her vehicle was struck head-on by a dump truck driver who was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash [Source: Courier Journal]. Garmon’s legs and pelvis were broken and she was trapped inside her vehicle for over an hour “while firefighters fought to extract her.” Five days after the truck accident, she passed away.
Garmon was well-known in her community as she “had touched thousands of lives as a hospice nurse in the county.” The news source highlighted that more than 4,000 people attended her visitation and funeral.
How was the trucker and/or the trucking company negligent?
After the accident, tests revealed that the truck driver, Eric D. Jenkins, “had marijuana in his bloodstream” and allegedly took Loritab and Valium pills just hours before the wreck. Both are considered opioids and should not be consumed before getting behind the wheel of any type of vehicle, especially a large truck. It was also determined that the company that hired Jenkins, Atlas Excavating, “put the driver on the road without giving him a pre-employment drug screen, as required under federal law.”
After finding out the information shared above and of course, losing Garmon, her family decided to file suit against the trucker and the trucking company. The family refused to settle with the company and instead, pushed for trial. A jury was assigned to the case and after reviewing all the evidence that was presented, they decided to award Garmon’s estate $32 million. Of the $32 million, $5 million went toward pain and suffering and $10 million went toward punitive damages. Although the hefty award will never be enough to make up for this family’s loss, the outcome was meant to “send a message to trucking companies that breaking the law is not worth the risk.”
- Trucking company sued after hiring a driver with an adverse driving record.
On September 24, 2019, Universal Am-Can (UACL), a subsidiary of Universal Logistics Holdings agreed to pay $36 million in addition to amounts that had already been paid to James Denton, a victim of a horrific collision [ Source: Freight Waves]. The accident occurred in 2011 “when a wrong-way driver on an interstate highway in Indiana caused two vehicles to swerve off the road to avoid it.” David Lee Johnson, who was operating the truck that was involved, was speeding and driving on a suspended license when he “crashed into a Jeep in front of him occupied by Denton.” Denton’s vehicle was then pushed into a fuel tank of another tractor, causing him to suffer severe injuries.
It was later determined that Johnson had been hired by the company despite his adverse driving record. The news source highlighted that Johnson had previously “been involved in four accidents, he had acquired three moving violations, and had his license suspended twice in the three years prior to applying to UACL.” The source also pointed out that Johnson had been “terminated from four of his prior seven employments for reasons that included” a felony conviction and crashing into a car that he refused to allow to merge onto an interstate ramp.
Denton later filed a lawsuit and based on the evidence that was presented, the jury found the company to be “negligent in its hiring and retaining of Johnson” which produced the verdict highlighted above.
One thing you may have noticed in both of these cases aside from the fact that the company was partially at fault for these accidents occurring is that they took several years before they were resolved. What many truck crash victims don’t realize is that cases involving large trucks generally take a significant amount of time before they settle or are resolved which is why it is important that if you have a viable case, you contact a truck accident lawyer in Iowa immediately. So, if you or a loved one suffered injuries in a collision in Iowa and you would like to discuss your case, call Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, P.L.C. today. Our truck accident lawyers are here to help you understand what your rights are as a victim and exercise them.
You can reach Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, P.L.C. at:
1921 51st Street NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Phone: (319) 393-1020
Fax: (319) 393-4000