A jury awarded $24.3 million to a girl who was run over by a tractor-trailer driven by her father. In 2004, Diana Loza-Jimenez, then 9, was on a long-distance haul with her father, Simon Loza-Mejia, an independent contractor for Freeway Transport Inc., and other relatives. The family got into the truck after a stop, but the father didn't realize that Diana was still outside and ran her over with the rig's wheel. She fractured her pelvis and hip and sustained degloving injuries to her pelvis, buttocks and thighs. She underwent several operations, but still suffers from significant muscle loss and walks with an altered gait. Diana sued her father, his trucking business and Freeway Transport as a "common carrier." The father's insurer settled before trial, paying its $1 million policy.
A pedestrian who sustained leg and knee injuries when a tractor-trailer backed into him recovered $1.2 million. In 2007, Danny Williams was walking in a Laredo parking lot when he was hit by the rig, which was owned by P.A.M. Transport and driven by its employee, David McCollister. Williams sustained ligament tears in his left knee and fibular and tibial plateau fractures. He underwent surgery on his knee and ankle, but he still experiences pain. His doctors said he will likely need surgery in the future. Williams sued P.A.M. and McCollister for $2 million. He alleged McCollister wasn't looking as he backed up and that P.A.M. was negligent in hiring the trucker and retaining him despite his involvement in six accidents in five years. The defendants argued Williams failed to watch for traffic as he walked through the busy parking lot. The jury found McCollister 75 percent and Williams 25 percent liable. Williams' $1.6 million award was reduced due to comparative negligence.
A woman injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer recovered $693,750 in a trial against the truck's driver and his employer. In 2008, Cynthia Saucedo, then 39, sustained ankle, hip and knee fractures when she crashed into the side of the truck. She blamed truck driver Henry Leon Duke and his employer, AAA Cooper Transportation, alleging Duke made too wide a turn and didn't watch out for traffic. She sued them for nearly $3 million, alleging her injuries prevent her from pursuing a career in nursing, which she was studying before the crash. The defendants argued Saucedo wasn't paying attention and failed to hit her brakes. The jury found the defendants 75 percent and Saucedo 25 liable. Saucedo's $925,000 award was reduced due to comparative fault.
A man who suffered multiple injuries when he was struck by a tractor-trailer received an $850,000 settlement.
In 2006, Christopher Mejia was helping a friend load a disabled vehicle onto a trailer on the shoulder of I-35 near Ardmore, Okla., when an 18-wheeler veered off the road and struck the men.
Mejia was thrown through the air. He sustained a torn brachial plexus, closed head injury and eight fractured teeth. His friend was killed.
Mejia incurred $250,000 in medical bills and his range of motion is permanently reduced, rendering him unable to work. He blamed driver Emerson James Griffin, who resides in Cherokee County, and Griffin’s employer, CRST International, alleging Griffin went off the road because he was fatigued.
The defense argued that the area was poorly lit and accused Mejia of failing to set out flares.
A mechanic who claimed he sustained career-ending injuries in a collision with a tractor-trailer recovered $705,374. On Oct. 13, 2004, Billy Burnett, then 41, was driving on State Highway 36 in Lufkin when he collided with the trailer as it was making a left turn. Burnett alleged the trailer, which was owned by Pilgrim's Pride Corp. and operated by employee Jack Alton Sherman, was overloaded and that this prevented Sherman from making the turn at the speed needed to avoid the crash. Burnett sustained femur, tibia and ulna fractures, a torn meniscus and a brachial plexus injury to his right arm. He said the arm injury resulted in loss of sensitivity and grip strength, rendering him unable to work. The defense argued that Burnett had plenty of time to stop before the crash and accused him of driving while impaired. The jury found Pilgrim's Pride 25 percent, Sherman 40 percent and Burnett 35 percent liable. It determined that Burnett's damages were $1,085,190, but the award was reduced due to the finding of comparative negligence.
A trucker's wife who said she was injured when a trailer struck her husband's parked rig received a $400,000 settlement. In 2008, Polly Snell, then 43, was sleeping in a bunk in the cab of the 18-wheeler when Leandro Telles' tractor-trailer made a tight turn and dragged across the front of the Snells' cab, which was parked at a truck stop in Amarillo. The impact knocked Snell out of the bunk and she hit her head and neck on a cabinet as she fell to the floor. She was diagnosed with a herniated cervical disc and underwent fusion surgery. She said she continues to suffer from debilitating pain and hand tremors. Telles' attorney argued that the collision was minor and did not cause Snell's neck problems. The settlement was reached in mediation.
A motorcyclist injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer received a $1 million settlement. In 2008, trucker Nicholas Robles was hauling a flatbed trailer when he made a right turn and collided with motorcyclist Gerri Dorsett. Dorsett, then 47, sustained arm and knee fractures. She also suffered a concussion, which she claimed wiped out her memory of the crash. Due to her injuries, she has been unable to work since the accident. She sued Robles and the owner of the truck, Juan Robles (doing business as Robles Trucking), alleging the trucker made an unsafe wide right turn. The defense argued Dorsett was speeding and shouldn't have tried to pass on the right. The case ultimately settled for the limit on the defendants' insurance policy.