A court has delivered a verdict for a 2009 crash in what one Montrose-LaCrescenta Patch article describes as what could be one of the largest verdicts of its kind. The driver of a big rig and his employer were found jointly liable for the SUV-big rig collision and death of three people. Now, a teenage girl has been awarded $150.75 million for the wrongful deaths of three of her family members. She, being 9 years old at the time of the crash, survived by crawling out of a window of the SUV, after it had hit the big rig parked on the shoulder of the freeway in the early morning dark.
According to reports, as a result of a truck driver knowingly and negligently violating highway rules, three people died. The highway had various warning signs that stopping on the shoulders was only allowed in emergencies. However, the driver of the truck had pulled over on the right shoulder to sleep. In court, the driver testified how he parked on the shoulder to relieve himself and to sleep due to a severe headache. As the shoulder is reserved for emergencies, the family tried to utilize this very shoulder after their SUV had been hit with debris on the road. Instead, they collided with the sleeping driver’s parked big rig. They never saw the truck due to the darkness and due to the fact that the truck driver failed to put out his emergency reflectors. Had he taken this precautionary measure, or had he not misused the shoulder of the road, the surviving girl may still have her family.
Truck drivers should be aware that the shoulders of the road intended for emergency use only, and trucking companies should stress the importance of following laws like this when they train their drivers. Had the driver’s fatigue been an emergency, he was only seconds away from an exit, where he could have left the freeway to find a place of rest and relief. Knowing that other options were available, and in a non-emergency, the driver chose the shoulder of the road instead, resulting in deaths and injuries to others in a true state of emergency.
The most typical award in court is monetary damages. However, not everything has a market value, so placing a dollar amount on “intangibles” is often hard to do. Litigation can be more difficult or lengthy when trying to measure something one does not typically buy in the marketplace in a dollar value. For example, a court can determine the price of a totaled vehicle based on its resale worth, but consider how a court can measure a broken arm or the mental anguish one suffers from losing a loved ones? These do not easily have an economic formula like material goods do. Feelings and people do not equate to a numerical value. Therefore, when arguing for such emotional or intangible loss, plaintiffs often show “actual injury,” which is a physical loss or missing presence of something. This girl lost most of her family, and although you cannot place an exact dollar amount on your mother, father, or brother, that does not mean that the court shouldn’t in a case of loss.
Here, this girl will not grow up with her family for the rest of her life because her mother, father, and brother died in an accident. Understandably, the court should compensate for her loss. However, courts cannot replace something so sentimental and important, such as the members of your family. Here, some may assert that there is no adequate remedy at law to fully heal the damage that has been done. Since the courts cannot bring her family back but still wish to return her to her status quo as best as possible, they must do so monetarily the best that they can, even though no dollar amount could ever measure up to the spot one’s family once filled in a life.
If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident due to the negligence of others, you understand the void that leaves behind. Our experienced and successful Chicago accident attorneys empathize with this pain and can help you get the compensation you deserve for a wrongful death.