Victim of Dump Truck Accident Caused by Improperly Maintained Truck Awarded $10 Million
Dump trucks constitute a vital piece of heavy equipment on many roadwork and construction projects. However, the massive size and weight of these vehicles can make them extremely dangerous when poorly maintained or improperly operated. An appellate court in another state recently upheld a $10 million jury verdict against a company that owned a dump truck that was beset with mechanical problems. The defendant's failure to perform necessary maintenance on the vehicle was so egregious that the appellate court affirmed over a million dollars in punitive damages in the case.
The accident occurred when the runaway dump truck speed out of control down a hill at 45 miles per hour because the vehicles brakes failed to function. The dump truck rear-ended another vehicle and caused severe injuries to the driver of the vehicle that was struck. The victim suffered injuries to her face and fractures to her back, leg and ankle. She was forced to endure multiple operations and suffered permanent scars, a limp, an altered gait and persistent pain.
The evidence produced at trial revealed that the company that owned the dump truck was operating without the certifications required under state law and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The truck driver also neglected to perform a pre-trip inspection of the vehicle. This inspection would have revealed that only three of eight brakes on the vehicle were operational. Additional problems with the vehicle included:
• Lack of an axle tag as required by law
• Excessive play in the steering wheel
• Non-operational speedometer and safety alarms
Based on the numerous maintenance issues and safety violations, the jury verdict awarded the injury victim $9.1 million in compensatory damages and $1.025 million in punitive damages. Punitive damage are not awarded in cases of ordinary negligence. This form of damages is awarded when the conduct of a defendant is so egregious as to be considered malicious or reckless. The goal of punitive damages is to punish this type of exceptionally unacceptable conduct and to provide a deterrent to prevent similar misconduct in the future.
The multiple safety violations and failure to certify the truck as required by state and federal regulations was sufficient for the appellate court to uphold the punitive damage award. Truck drivers and companies that utilize dump trucks are legally responsible for performing pre-trip inspections and performing appropriate maintenance. When these requirements are neglected, the innocent lives of others who share the road are needlessly endangered. Punitive damages in accidents involving improperly maintained trucks provide a means to hold companies accountable for undermining the safety of others.
If your have been injured in a truck accident involving an equipment failure, you might be entitled to damages for your injuries. Our attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.