Truck Driver Seriously Injured Recovers $8.5M in Personal Negligence

August 17, 2015 by personalinjuryatty.com
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A Truck Driver was Seriously Injured in this 8.5 million dollar suit. A truck driver trainee claimed that he was seriously injured while he was an employee of a trucking company, and while performing the duties that were assigned to him. The trainee claimed that it was the trucking company’s duty to maintain the company truck and keep it in a reasonably safe condition for use.

The driver trainee asserted that he was assigned to ride with his supervisor/trainer to learn the company’s policies andprocedures. While performing a delivery service, he noted that the tractor-trailer’s air brakes were leaking.   The supervisor instructed the trainee to climb under the trailer and to repair the leaking air brakes with a ball point pen, just as supervisor had cleared an obstruction in the trailer brake valve earlier in the day, while the trainee observed.

The trainee maintained that following his supervisor’s direction, he went under the truck to repair the leak. While the he was under there, the air brakes disengaged, and the he became trapped. The trainee was dragged by his rib cage for 16 ft. before stopping. He was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where he was treated for third degree burns on his face, underarm and chest. He had seven broken ribs, a broken left shoulder blade, severe bruising, cuts on his left knee and arm, injury to his left wrist and fingers, a collapsed lung and pleural effusion. He had a skin-graft surgery for the friction burns, with skin from his thigh which was grafted onto his face and underarm, and was required to have physical therapy.

According to WebMD.com, “…a skin graft is often used for burn patients; skin is removed from one area of the body and transplanted to another. There are two types of skin graft: split-thickness grafts in which just a few layers of outer skin are transplanted and full-thickness grafts, which involve all of the dermis. There is usually permanent scarring that is noticeable. During a skin graft, a special skin-cutting instrument known as a dermatone removes the skin from an area (the donor site) usually hidden by clothing such as the buttocks or inner thigh. Once removed, the graft is placed on the area in need of covering and held in place by a dressing and a few stitches. The donor site is also covered with a dressing to prevent infection from occurring. Recovery time from a split-thickness skin graft is generally fairly rapid, often less than three weeks. For full-thickness skin graft patients the recovery time is a few weeks longer. Aside from burn patients, skin grafts can also be used during breast or nose reconstruction.”

The trucking company countered that the trainee experienced a “stuck valve” in the air brake system of the trailer, which prevented his truck from moving. They contended that the stuck valve issue was a common occurrence for truck drivers during hot, humid days.   Without consulting with the supervisor, the trainee crawled under the trailer to clear the brake line. When the obstructed valve was clear, the truck rolled forward. When the supervisor saw the truck rolling toward the trainee, he immediately ran to the cab and put the vehicle in reverse. The supervisor set both parking brakes for the tractor and trailer as neither of the parking brakes was previously set.

The company noted that the trainee did not inform his “co-worker” of the defect of the company truck. They asserted that they do not require the drivers to clear obstructed brake line valves. The drivers have the option of contacting the company’s mechanics to remedy any mechanical issue.

The company opined that the trainee tried to repair an air brake valve without requesting assistance from his “coworker”, failed to set his tractor emergency brakes before he attempted to repair the air brake valve, and failed to contact a company mechanic. They said that the supervisor could not have instructed the trainee to fix the valve because he was on his cell phone when the valve stuck.

The jury awarded $8,500,000 for the plaintiff.

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