As we well know from this past North Carolina winter, weather can rapidly change for the worse, bringing with it dangerous driving conditions. In some cases, motorists are urged to wait for a storm to pass than to try to navigate slippery roads with minimal visibility.
A horrific tractor-trailer crash back in December 2014 involved very difficult driving conditions. The wreck began when the driver of a pick-up truck lost control on an icy interstate highway near Odessa, Texas, crossed the median and collided with an 18-wheeler.
The crash was devastating for the family in the smaller truck: the woman who was driving suffered a serious brain injury, her 7-year-old son was killed, her 12-year-old daughter sustained catastrophic brain injuries and her 14-year-old son was also injured.
After a recent six-week trial, a jury awarded surviving family members $89.7 million. The plaintiffs had argued that the student truck driver should have been ordered to pull over during the storm that had left the highway coated with black ice.
The Mississippi trucking company said its “thoughts and prayers” went out to the family, but that “its drivers and the company did nothing wrong.” In court, the company had argued that its trucker was below the speed limit at the time of the crash and did not lose control of his big rig after impact.
The plaintiffs argued that the trainee and his trainer should not have been on the road at all. There was a National Weather Service winter storm warning in effect for hours before they were dispatched. They knew that freezing rain was falling and that road conditions were “extremely dangerous,” the family’s personal injury lawyer said.
Obviously, no amount can restore this family, but hopefully the verdict will serve as a warning to other truckers and trucking companies to stay off roads that are impossible for everyone to navigate safely.