Earlier this month, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a written opinion affirming a lower court’s award of $1,200,000 to the family of a woman who was killed in a truck accident. In the case, Quilez-Velar v. Ox Bodies, Inc., the plaintiffs were the surviving family members of a woman who was killed when the vehicle she was driving struck a semi-truck from the rear and “underrode” the truck.
What Is an Under-Ride Accident?
Whenever a car crashes into the rear of a semi-truck or other large vehicle, there is a chance that the car will squeeze underneath the bottom of the truck. This is especially dangerous to motorists, since in doing so the car’s cabin is crushed, almost always resulting in serious injury or death. To help prevent under-ride accidents, federal law requires that truck companies install under-ride guards on their vehicles.
The Facts of the Case
Back in 2010, the deceased was driving her Jeep Liberty on the highway when she collided with a slowing semi-truck from behind. As the two vehicles collided, the Jeep went under the body of the truck, and the rear of the truck ended up entering the cabin of the Jeep. As a result of the accident, the driver of the Jeep was killed.
The driver’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of the under-ride guard. The owner of the truck was a local government, which was not named in the lawsuit. However, it came out at trial that the government was the party that installed the under-ride guard.
The case proceeded to a jury trial, where the jury determined that the manufacturer of the under-ride guard was 20% liable for the deceased’s injuries, and the government was 80% liable. The jury also determined that the appropriate amount of damages for the plaintiffs’ loss was $6 million. Thus, the jury determined that the manufacturer of the under-ride guard should compensate the family of the deceased $1.2 million. The judge agreed and entered judgment accordingly.
After the trial, both parties appealed. The plaintiffs argued that the manufacturer should be held liable for the total amount of damages. The defendants argued that one of the experts the plaintiffs called should not have been permitted to testify. However, the court hearing the appeal determined that the lower court was correct in its ruling and affirmed the judgment as given.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of serious or fatal Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As you can see from the case discussed above, liability can be split up according to each party’s percentage of fault, as determined by the jury. Therefore, it is very important that a skilled attorney be consulted early in the process to ensure that all potentially responsible parties are named in the lawsuit. To speak with an attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Case Reversed after Lower Court Allows Jury to Hear Truck Driver Did Not Have Insurance, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 20, 2016.
Accident Involving Truck and Minibus Results in 12 Fatalities, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 6, 2016.