Location: Sharp County, Arkansas
Plaintiff: Two sawmill workers
Defendant: Trucking company and driver
Amount: Confidential settlement
Alleged Injuries: Negligence and vicarious liability in a tractor-trailer accident that left two men with multiple, severe injuries
In February 2009, two coworkers were passengers in a pickup truck heading back to work at a sawmill just after lunch. A tractor-trailer driver was heading in the opposite direction on that same road. Both vehicles were approaching a sharp, dangerous curve known for accidents.
The truck driver sped around the curve, causing his trailer full of coal to break free, crash to its side and careen into oncoming traffic. Another car in front of the pickup truck had to swerve off the road to avoid being plowed by the runaway trailer, but the driver of the pickup truck did not have time to react. He and his passengers had to be rescued with the Jaws of Life and taken to the hospital.
Passenger 1 suffered multiple fractures. He had surgery on his hip and had to use a wheelchair for more than five months. He can walk, but with significant pain. The limitations imposed by his injuries make it nearly impossible for him to find full-time, competitive work.
Passenger 2 injured his leg and needed surgery, as well as skin grafts and wound treatment. He now walks with a cane. Before the accident, he enjoyed hiking, rappelling, fishing and hunting, but he is unable to do any of that now. His difficulty walking long distances or standing for long periods without the cane prevent him from returning to the work he used to do.
Our investigation determined that the truck driver was dismissed from his previous job and not eligible for rehire. When he applied for a job with the new company, they ignored that and hired the driver based on an off-the-record comment that he was a “good guy.” The driver failed to disclose previous accidents when he applied for a job. He did not accurately log his hours of driving, as required by federal law, and was not properly trained by the trucking company.
The driver and the company exhibited a reckless disregard for Department of Transportation regulations, as well as their own company safety policy. Their actions reflected a complete indifference to the safety of the victims, leaving the plaintiffs with permanent injuries.
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