North Carolina Lawyers Weekly has released the list of North Carolina’s 25 highest value settlements and judgments for 2007. Many high value cases are confidential and would therefore not be included in this list. Six of these cases involve tractor trailers. Based on the information made public, these cases do not involve allegations of an intoxicated driver, driver fatigue, improper equipment, failure to supervise, or failure to train.
A Lenoir County case settled for $5.5 million. The plaintiff, a rural mail carrier, alleged that she was struck from the rear by a tractor trailer. The driver of the tractor trailer denied responsibility for the accident. The plaintiff was rendered a paraplegic as a result of the accident and lost sight in one eye. The plaintiff was married with one adult child.
A Robeson County case settled for $5 million. The plaintiff’s van collided with the defendant’s tractor trailer on I-95. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries, including massive head wounds. The plaintiff was unable to return to work following the accident because of serious physical, mental and emotional injuries. The defendant’s driver fled the scene, but was identified by the markings on the vehicle, as observed by eye witnesses. The defendant trucking company admitted to destroying several copies of the truck driver’s log books.
On US 421 North, near Winston-Salem, a tractor trailer struck a vehicle traveling in the same direction, causing the smaller vehicle to lose control. The driver of the smaller vehicle was killed. The driver, a recently laid-off mid-level executive, was survived by a wife and two college age children. The case settled after mediation and before trial for $4.1 million.
A 3-year-old boy was killed when a lumber truck collided with his family’s van on the way to the beach. According to the plaintiff, the truck drifted across the center line and struck the family van head-on. The boy suffered head trauma, skull fractures, chest and abdominal injuries, and pelvic and femur fractures. Following emergency surgery, the boy died. The case settled during mediation for $3.375 million.
In June 2004, a mixed concrete truck collided with a vehicle on Highway 70 in Smithfield. A mother and daughter were riding in the vehicle. The daughter’s injury resulted in traumatic abdominal damage. The mother suffered multiple fractures. Following the accident, the mother was required to live in a handicapped accessible home. The trucking company denied responsibility, hired an accident reconstruction expert and prepared to argue that the mother was contributorily negligent. Prior to trial, the case settled for $2.97 million.
An Allegheny County case settled for $2.85 million. The plaintiff in the case was the husband of a woman killed in a collision with a tractor trailer on a mountainous and curvy road. The truck driver lost control of his truck while driving downhill in ninth gear. The truck struck the woman’s SUV, trapping her. The SUV subsequently caught on fire, but the woman was trapped, and was burned to death. The woman’s mother had also been in the vehicle, but she was able to escape before the fire. The deceased was survived by her husband, two minor children and two adult children. The trucking company had only $1 million in insurance coverage. Following two mediations, the case settled for $2.85 million. The $1.85 million not covered by insurance was paid out of the trucking company’s assets.