Highway construction contractor, dump truck company agree to $3 million settlement in I-10 crash lawsuit

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by Charles Miller

More than 40,000 people are injured each year as a result of accidents in roadway work zones. Someone in the United States is injured in a work zone crash about every thirteen minutes and someone is killed in a work zone about every ten hours.

In 2009, Melicent Sanders’ car was crushed between a dump truck and another car on Interstate 10 outside Jacksonville, Florida. Sanders was a social worker and had been on her way to investigate a child-abuse claim.

The accident occurred in a construction zone overseen by Hubbard Construction. The company had been hired for almost $58 million to add lanes to the highway. At the time of the accident, I-10 had two lanes going east and two lanes going west. Hubbard had not closed either lane or added an emergency lane for oncoming construction vehicles.

A dump truck in front of Sanders slowed down drastically to 25 mph on the interstate highway. Although Sanders slowed down with the dump truck, a big van behind her didn’t and slammed into her traveling at 60 mph.

Sanders sued the dump truck company for negligence as well as the road contractor, arguing the company violated state law and transportation standards. Sanders alleged that traffic should have been slowed for the construction site. There was nothing to warn drivers to slow down as they approached the area, such as warning signs, lights, police or flagmen. The posted speed limit was 60 mph and the minimum was 40. Sanders alleged that, given the setup for the construction site, traffic should have slowed traffic to 15 mph.

There was evidence that the trucking company had complained about unsafe driving conditions to the contractor. The contractor reportedly brushed aside the complaints, stating the trucking company could be replaced if necessary. The superintendent of the construction site admitted some signs had fallen over and at least one had never been placed.

Sanders was seriously injured in the accident and, years later, is still in pain. Witnesses to the accident thought she was dead. Sanders had bleeding on the brain, a dislocated right knee, a crushed left knee and a fractured left arm. For a period, she was in a coma and she does not remember the accident.

The road contractor and the company operating the dump truck involved in the accident have now settled the lawsuit. Sanders will receive almost $3 million in the settlement.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson fighting for traffic safety

Highway work zones are hazardous both for drivers who must travel through the complex array of signs, barrels, and lane changes and for the workers who build, repair, and maintain our streets, bridges, and highways. Texas, California, and Florida ranked as the three States with the crash fatalities in construction and maintenance work zones in 2012—each with at least 50 deaths. Over the 10 years from 2003 through 2012, Texas ranked as the State with the most worker deaths in work zones, followed by Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, California, Georgia, and Indiana.

Everyone on the road has a right to reasonably safe road conditions. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we believe that when highway construction and trucking companies fail to follow minimum safety standards, they should be held accountable for the injuries and deaths caused by their negligence.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, our attorneys have tried dozens of cases involving accidents with 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles. Our attorneys have helped achieve a $36 million verdict for the family of a teenager injured in a bus crash in East Texas. They have negotiated a $15 million settlement of a case involving an 18-wheeler accident that killed several members of the same family. And they achieved verdicts or settlements of $7.25 million, $5.2 million, $5 million, and $1.8 million in other 18-wheeler cases, just to name a few.

If you or a loved one has been injured, or if you have lost someone, in an accident involving a commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering. Contact us today by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 or by following the link to our website contact form to receive a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.