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Record Jury Verdict Should Prompt Negligent Semi-Truck Drivers in New Mexico and Elsewhere to Exercise More Care on the Road

Posted in Distracted Truck Drivers

A California jury has ordered a negligent trucker and the company that employs her to pay a record $34.9 million verdict in connection with a 2010 semi-truck collision. In Hackett v. Silva Trucking, Inc., No. 2012-128931, a semi-truck operator, Elaine McDonold, apparently crossed the center line on Highway 12 near Isleton and struck a bus that was being driven by Debra Hackett. As a result of the crash, Hackett reportedly suffered a serious head injury and became paralyzed from the waist down.

Following trial, a 12-person Sacramento jury found both McDonold and Silva Trucking negligent. The jurors also stated the accident substantially caused Hackett’s harm. Because of this, the jury awarded Hackett almost $1.2 million in past medical expenses and economic losses, about $16.7 million in future medical bills and economic damages, and $14 million in past and future non-economic damages. Non-economic loss includes pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages. The jurors also awarded Hackett’s spouse $3 million for past and future loss of consortium. Three days after the jury’s verdict was issued, a Sacramento County judge signed an order awarding the Hacketts the entirety of the verdict plus interest.

The jury’s verdict is purportedly the highest personal injury award ever issued in the county. Interestingly, Silva Trucking’s insurer allegedly refused to settle the case when a pre-litigation demand for $5 million was made. Additionally, the company also apparently declined a later offer to settle the lawsuit for $12.5 million.

Although this tragic big rig wreck occurred in California, approximately 1,400 semi-truck collisions occur on the many roadways in our state every year. As occurred here, a trucking company operating in New Mexico may be held responsible for the negligent actions of an employee who hurts another driver or vehicle passenger while operating an 18-wheeler within the scope and course of his or her employment. In general, trucking companies operating in our state carry at least $1 million in insurance coverage. As this situation demonstrates, however, truck accident victims or their survivors may incur significantly higher damages. Consequently, a big rig crash victim may be able to recover damages by way of a trucking company’s assets in addition to any payments made through an accident insurance policy.

Contact the Fine Law Firm if you were harmed or a relative was killed in a crash that was caused by a negligent semi-truck driver anywhere in the State of New Mexico. Our hardworking Santa Fe truck accident attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience helping the victims of 18-wheeler crashes across our state recover the financial compensation they deserve based upon the severity of their injuries. To schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with a skilled advocate, give the Fine Law Firm a call at (505) 889-3463 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Court Holds Jury Must Decide Whether Punitive Damages Are Merited in Negligent Albuquerque Truck Crash, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, December 12, 2013
Jury Award Reminds Negligent Truck Drivers in New Mexico and Across the Nation to Use Caution, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, December 6, 2013
Additional Resources:

Record personal injury award handed down against trucking company, by Kathy Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal

Multimillion-dollar settlement for Galt pair, by Jennifer Bonnett, Lodi News-Sentinel