$5,500,000 Settlement Awarded to Driver Sideswiped by Dump Tractor Trailer

DATE OF SETTLEMENT

12/1/2006

COURT AND COUNTY

Supreme Court, Kings County

AGE AND OCCUPATION OF PLAINTIFF

At the time of the accident, the Plaintiff was a 43-year-old home improvement contractor.

DESCRIPTION OF CASE

Our client (Plaintiff) was driving his pick-up truck alongside Defendant, who was hauling a dump trailer with the semi-truck he was operating, on New Hyde Park Road for approximately a minute when Defendant suddenly cut into the left lane, sideswiping Plaintiff's pick-up truck.

The initial impact from the sideswipe caused Plaintiff's pick-up truck to hit the concrete median with such great force that Plaintiff's pick-up truck bounced off of the median and back into the dump trailer for a second collision.

The point of impact between Defendant's dump trailer and Plaintiff's pick-up, in both collisions, occurred on the passenger's side of Plaintiff's vehicle. In the initial crash, three of the rear wheels of Defendant's dump trailer sideswiped the passenger's side. The second crash further drove the Plaintiff's vehicle into the concrete median. When the vehicles stopped moving, Plaintiff's pick-up truck was wedged between the dump trailer and the concrete median.

Plaintiff's pick-up truck sustained serious damage. It was irreparable and had to be towed from the scene. Damages to the pick-up truck spanned from the fender to the rear door. The fender on the passenger side was peeled back, almost to the point of reaching the front door of the passenger's side. The driver's side showed numerous dents and scratches. The impacts, both joint and severally, dealt such extensive damage to the Plaintiff's pick-up truck that the axle was ripped from off the front of Plaintiff's pick-up. Defendant's semi-truck, however, was operable post-accident and was driven from the scene.

The central issue in this case with regard to establishing liability against Defendant was comparative fault. Defendant's counsel argued that the trailer driver was immune from liability for negligent driving because his apparently rash decision to cut into the left lane without appropriate notice was justified by what Defendant driver described as an emergency response to the negligent driving of another motorist in a car that had cut him off in his lane.

The evidence and police report both indicated that the dump trailer's driver was driving negligently by both speeding and making unsafe lane changes. There was no evidence to suggest comparative fault on the part of the unknown third-party that Defendant alleges caused him to maneuver his own dump trailer in such an unsafe manner.

INJURIES/DAMAGES

The accident caused exacerbation of an L5-S1 disc herniation that Plaintiff had sustained in a previous incident, years prior. More significantly, the collision caused a fresh herniation at the L4-5 disc. Treatment following the accident required lumbar fusion surgery and use of morphine to mitigate pain.

SETTLEMENT AMOUNT

This matter settled prior to trial in the amount of $5,500,000.

ATTORNEYS

This matter was handled by Jeffrey A. Block, Esq.