Thirteen die in collision of truck and crowded SUV near U.S.-Mexico border

At least 13 people were killed on Tuesday when a tractor-trailer slammed into a Ford Expedition crammed with 25 adults and children in the dusty farming community of Holtville near the U.S.-Mexico border, officials said.

Handmade wooden crosses stretched in a line across a patch of dry grass and dirt next to the highway, and a seat covered in what appeared to be blood lay near the SUV, as the desolate highway remained closed Tuesday afternoon.

The white tractor trailer cab with yellow trim was still smashed into the wrecked side of the maroon SUV. The entire driver’s side of the smaller vehicle was caved in, and the passenger side was flung wide open.

Zoom Jury Awards $411 Million Nuclear Verdict to Injured Motorcyclist

Travel on Florida’s Interstate 10 came to a standstill in 2018 after a 45-car pile up.

Severe weather caused visibility issues for motorist and tractor trailer alike. One truck in particular, a semi from Top Auto Trucking Company, tried to avoid an accident, but instead jacknifed across the road and created the pile up.

Described as “total chaos” by local news, the heavy downpour soon gave way to 18 crashes, with eight people injured and in need of hospitalization. A single motorcyclist, Duane Washington, was in critical condition.

Washington was an eight-year Army veteran and father of three. In his attempt to avoid the accident as it occurred, Washington swerved his motorcycle toward the median, but before he could pass, Washington collided with a stopped truck that had no lights on in the emergency lane.

He hit with such force that his body was thrown into the median, leaving him with life-threatening injuries, including breaking both sides of his pelvis away from his spine, severe colon and urethra damage, permanent incontinence and loss of sexual function.

During recovery, Washington found that he was struggling to not only care for himself, but also for his children. He sued the trucking company.

At first, Top Auto Trucking Company tried to settle the case for $1 million, but the court rejected it, according to CDL Life. Washington’s bills, at that point, had already reached $750,000. Top Auto was a single truck and single driver company based in Pembroke Pines, Fla., that reportedly no longer held authority. Because its offer was rejected, and because the trucking coming no longer held authority, Top Auto’s lawyers pulled out from the case, essentially leaving the company to represent itself.

Litigation continued, even through the tumultuous year of 2020, in which many jury verdicts have been doled out virtually.

In Washington’s case, the jury awarded the injured motorcyclist $411 million in damages upon hearing the case from the confines of their virtual space. This is considered one of the largest amounts in damages awarded via a Zoom trial this year in the United States.

Trucking company slammed with historic $412M jury verdict in crash lawsuit

A jury for a state court in Florida has ordered trucking company Top Auto Express to pay a man hundreds of millions of dollars for a nonfatal crash, shattering nuclear verdict records against trucking companies.

On Oct. 2, a jury in Florida’s Second Circuit Court awarded Duane Washington nearly $412 million for damages from a July 2018 crash. Although several defendants were initially named in the lawsuit, Pembroke Pines, Fla.-based Top Auto Express was the only defendant left by the time the jury reached a decision.

According to a news release from Washington’s attorney, Ben Crump, Washington was partially paralyzed in the crash that involved a 45-vehicle pileup on Interstate 10. The crash was the result of wet road conditions and a Top Auto Express truck speeding.

At the time of the crash, Washington, a former career Army sergeant, was riding his motorcycle on the interstate near Tallahassee. In an attempt to avoid the scene, Washington tried to steer his motorcycle onto the median. However, he ended up crashing into a stopped truck. That truck did not have lights on while in the emergency lane.

Washington sustained life-altering trauma, including breaking both sides of his pelvis away from his spine, severe colon and urethra damage, permanent incontinence, and loss of sexual function, according to Crump. As a result of his injuries, Washington had a colostomy bag installed during his six-month hospital stay. Currently, Washington can walk only with a specialized arm crutch.

Trucking Fatalities Reach Highest Level in 29 Years

Deaths from large truck crashes reached their highest level in 29 years in 2017, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

Fatalities from big truck crashes rose even though the overall traffic fatality rate declined, the agency reported.

In 2017, 37,133 people died in motor vehicle crashes, a 2 percent decline from the prior year. The dip reversed two consecutive years of increases. Preliminary estimates indicate the downward trend is continuing through the first half of this year, according to NHTSA.

Large truck fatalities rose 9 percent to 4,761, an increase of 392 lives lost over the prior year. About 1,300 of the deaths were truckers. The remaining 72 percent occurred in the other vehicle involved in the collision.

About 40 percent of truck occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.

Tracy Morgan Crash: Feds Blame Sleep-Deprived Trucker For Fatal Wreck

The National Transportation Safety Board has sided with comedian Tracy Morgan in placing the blame for a deadly highway crash squarely on a sleep-deprived Wal-Mart truck driver.

The 2014 accident left comic James “Jimmy Mack” McNair dead and Morgan severely injured after the semi truck smashed into the comics’ limo after cruising up to 20 mph over the speed limit.

Kevin Roper, the Georgia truck driver, who’d been awake for 28 hours, might have prevented the accident by slowing his vehicle to 45 mph, the posted limit along the stretch of New Jersey Turnpike then undergoing construction work. The truck had been traveling at 65 mph, but is thought to have hit Morgan’s limo at 47-53 mph.

In today’s report, the NTSB also noted that Morgan and the other passengers in the limo-van, were not wearing seat belts and had adjusted the vehicle’s headrests, contributing to the severity of injuries.

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