A federal jury in the Southern District of Iowa returned a verdict of over four million dollars for GRL Law's clients who were victims of a semi-truck accident. The accident took place just outside of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, on Highway 218 Southbound, at exit 45.
The multi-million dollar verdict was a result of an accident caused by a negligent truck driver who failed to comply with Iowa and Federal Commercial Trucking Regulations. The truck driver was shown to have falsified her driving logs and also to have violated the hours of service regulations the day prior to the accident. More importantly, plaintiffs established at trial that the driver of the semi-truck had illegally stopped her semi on the shoulder of the highway just minutes prior to the accident. As the truck driver pulled back out into traffic from the shoulder, her clearance lights were not illuminated as required by Iowa law and consequently the plaintiffs, who were just cresting a hill and rounding a curve, were unable to see and ultimately avoid the slow moving semi in time. A reconstruction of the accident established that the semi was traveling anywhere from 18 – 35 mph at the time of the collision on a highway with a speed limit of 65 mph. The trucking company who owned the truck at the time of the accident was also held liable because in the State of Iowa, the owner of a vehicle is liable for the negligent acts of a driver using the vehicle with their consent. See Iowa Code section 321.493. The jury found the defendant truck driver and trucking company to be jointly responsible and 90% at fault while the driver of the plaintiffs vehicle was only found to be 10% at fault under Iowa's comparative fault law.
The results of the accident were tragic. A two-year old boy suffered an open parietal skull fracture resulting in brain injury. The front seat passenger, a 22 year old male was killed on impact. Finally, the driver, an 18 year old female, suffered a fractured C-6 vertebrae. The child continues to suffer from the effects of his traumatic brain injury to this day.
The jury's verdict broke down as follows: $400,915.76 to the driver of the plaintiffs' vehicle with a substantial portion being awarded for past and future pain and suffering; $3,190,852.40 to the brain injured child including compensating for loss of bodily function and past and future pain and suffering; $71,371.59 to the estate of the deceased passenger for his wrongful death; $400,000 to the deceased passenger's mother for loss of her relationship with her son known as consortium; and $25,000 to the father of the injured child for his loss of consortium. With the 10% fault reduction pursuant to Iowa's comparative fault law, the total judgment entered against the defendants was $3,679,325.77
Some people may find it interesting that the trucking company's insurance carrier, National American Insurance Company's final offer to settle ALL claims prior to trial was $350,000. It turned out they were $3,329,325.77 too low.