When a passenger vehicle and a semi truck collide, more than likely the driver of the passenger car will be the one who suffers serious injury or death. Case in point is the trucking accident that result in the wrongful death case of Doe V. Roe Trucking Co.
Doe, 54, was stopped in traffic when a semi truck driver, who had fallen asleep at the wheel, smashed into the rear of her car, killing her. Imagine her terror as she saw a 10,000 pound trucking bearing down on her. At the time of her death, Doe was working as a vocational counselor, a job that paid her $120,000 annually.
Doe’s sister, on behalf of Does’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver and the trucking company he worked for claiming negligence was responsible for Doe’s death. Doe and Roe settled for the wrongful death case for $4.8 million which was to be paid by the Roe’s insurance company.
In this case, the plaintiff’s attorney, representing Doe’s estate did an investigation into the truck driver. The U.S. judicial system allows that prior to a trial, each party in a lawsuit can obtain evidence by means of discovery. Discovery can include asking for documentation of the truck driver’s previous driving history, his medical records, his trucking log, his cell phone records and also asking him to answer question to interrogatories. In a lawsuit, the court can compel the defendant to assist in discovery.
In the case of Does v. Roe, it was revealed in discovery that, prior to the trucking accident, Roe was tested for and was diagnosed with a “moderately severe” case of sleep apnea, a condition in which a person stops breathing many times during night time sleep which causes daytime fatigue, slower reaction time and other problems.
It was also revealed in discovery that Roe had a history of motor vehicle accidents and had been involved in six accidents before the accident involving Roe.
The plaintiffs claimed in the wrongful death suit that Roe Trucking Co. was negligent in employment. An employer can be held liable for the actions of an employee if the employer was negligent in entrusting an employee with a dangerous instrument.
Wrongful death statutes
Many states have a wrongful death statute. The Washington State wrongful death statute allows the family of a person who was killed by another person’s negligent act to recover compensation in a civil action. Wrongful death cases often arise from motor vehicle accidents but they can also arise from on-the-job-accident, criminal attacks, school sporting activities and dangerous products.
In filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the estate should retain an attorney who is knowledgeable and skilled to successfully navigate the legalities involved.
Let us help you
The Farber Law Group, a personal injury law firm located in Western Washington, has more than 30 years experience handling wrongful death cases and has obtained millions of dollars in compensation for families.
Citation: Doe v. Roe Trucking Co., Confidential Dkt. No. (Pa., Confidential Ct. Sept. 2011).