Trucking company will pay $150 million in lawsuit filed in California over fiery, fatal crash

by Michael Heygood

A Los Angeles jury has awarded more than $150 million in damages to a 13-year-old girl who tragically watched her family burn to death in a fiery crash on a Southern California freeway. The girl was only 9 when she and her 11-year-old brother managed to escape from their family’s mangled SUV after it crashed into a big rig parked on the shoulder of Interstate 210. They saw their parents and older brother get burned alive after the vehicle they were trapped in caught fire. The brother committed suicide on his mother’s birthday, before the trial began. The entire award will be placed in a trust until the girl is 18.

After deliberating for three days, The jury found a California trucking company and one of its drivers liable. The jury determined that truck driver Rudolph Ortiz was negligent for parking on the side of the freeway in the early morning darkness without leaving on any light or emergency reflector. His employer, Bhandal Bros. Trucking, was found jointly liable.

The lawsuit alleged that Ortiz ignored written warnings that stopping on the shoulder was allowed only in emergencies by pulling his truck over to the shoulder to sleep. When the family’s SUV struck debris on the freeway, the girl’s father steered to the shoulder to stop and never saw the parked truck.

HO&P has the resources and experience to see your case through

While trucking company lawsuits serve many valuable purposes, they aren’t for the faint of heart. There are unique laws and regulations that are designed specifically to protect motorists from the negligent actions of truck drivers and trucking companies.

Trucking lawsuits can also be time-consuming and challenging. Many trucking companies and their insurers are well-funded and are willing to fight tooth and nail to avoid liability for their negligence. Trucking lawsuits can also be expensive. To properly prepare a case, an attorney may need to hire expert witnesses in the fields of trucking, trucking regulations, accident reconstruction and life care planning. To even the playing field, victims need experienced, aggressive attorneys who will protect them in their time of need and force the trucking companies and their insurers to take responsibility for their actions.

Given the complexities of this area of the law, the high costs associated with bringing such cases and the enormous damages often at stake, the last thing a victim of a trucking accident should do is entrust their 18-wheeler case to a lawyer with little or no experience with trucking accident litigation.

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 for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.

by Michael Heygood

Michael Heygood is a licensed attorney and partner at HO&P who focuses on insurance and corporate litigation, and other civil arenas. Michael has been named multiple times to the Super Lawyers List.