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Jury Award Sends Message to Negligent Truckers in New Mexico and Across U.S.

Posted in Firm News

A California jury has awarded a 13-year-old girl about $150 million in connection with a fatal semi-truck accident that killed her family in November 2009. The crash reportedly occurred in the early morning as the family of five headed north in a GMC Yukon on I-210 to visit relatives for the Thanksgiving holiday. Both of the girl’s parents and one of her brothers reportedly died after the vehicle slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer that was illegally parked on the side of the interstate. Although the girl and her 11-year-old brother were apparently able to crawl out of a broken window, the rest of the family was killed when the Yukon became engulfed in flames.

The jury deliberated for three days before deciding the semi-truck driver, Rudolph Ortiz, committed negligence when he parked his commercial vehicle on the side of the interstate in the dark without using an emergency light or other reflective warning device. According to testimony offered at trial, Ortiz ignored warning signs that stated the lane was for emergency use only and parked the big rig on the shoulder to take a nap. The jury found that the crash occurred when the girl’s father attempted to utilize the emergency lane after striking unidentified debris in the roadway. Instead, the Yukon became trapped beneath the rear of the tractor-trailer and burst into flames.

At trial, Ortiz argued he stopped on the shoulder to medicate a severe headache. According to the man, his actions constituted an emergency. Ortiz purportedly claimed at trial that he committed no negligence. Still, two 911 calls were allegedly placed and another motorist stopped at the accident scene to attempt to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher before Ortiz exited his vehicle.

After determining Ortiz was at fault for the fiery wreck, the jury issued a damages award of $150 million. Almost $9 million was awarded to the girl’s brother. Sadly, the money will be placed in trust for the girl until she is an adult because he committed suicide on what would have been their mother’s birthday. As part of the verdict, the jury found both Ortiz and his employer, Bhandal Bros. Trucking, jointly liable for the horrific collision.

Please contact the Fine Law Firm if you were injured or a loved one was killed in a wreck that was caused by a negligent semi-truck driver anywhere in New Mexico. Our hardworking Santa Fe truck accident lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience assisting the victims of tractor-trailer crashes across the State of New Mexico recover the financial compensation they deserve based upon the severity of their harm. To schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with a caring advocate, please give the Fine Law Firm a call at (505) 889-3463 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

NTSB Says Truck Safety Concerns in New Mexico and Across U.S Merit Audit of FMCSA Compliance Process, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, November 9, 2013
Proposed Law Would Require Trucking Companies in New Mexico and Throughout the U.S. to Carry More Liability Insurance, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, October 21, 2013
Additional Resources:

LA Jury Awards $150 Million To Girl In Wrongful Death Case, by Daisy Nguyen, Huffington Post