Lawsuit Filed Against Tractor Trailer Owner and Driver for the Wrongful Death of a Mother and Son on March 15, 2006

On March 16, 2006, a mother and son were driving eastbound on State Road 520 just east of I-95, in Cocoa, Florida.  It was night time and dark, with few or no road lights along a long stretch of roadway.  A tractor-trailer driver, who had stopped in a “Pilot” truck rest stop, decided to pull-out across State Road 520, and return to I-95.  State Road 520 is a four lane divided highway.  The tractor-trailer saw that he had clearance from eastbound traffic and pulled out, stopping his big rig with the cab in the median and his tractor-trailer completely blocking the eastbound lane, waiting for westbound traffic to clear.  The tractor-trailer remained in the eastbound lanes long enough that traffic in the eastbound lanes traveling in a reasonable manner approached the section of road where the trailer blocked the road.  Since there was no lighting in the area, the vehicle with the mother and son, who was driving, could not see the trailer in time, resulting in the vehicle going under the trailer (underride) and killing both him and his mother.

A lawsuit arising out of the death the mother and son was filed by Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, in the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court against the driver of the big rig and the tractor-trailer’s owner, who   were both residents of Miami-Dade County.  The allegations of negligence included failure to yield the right-of-way, driving in a dangerous and/or negligent manner, and having an improperly marked trailer, which prevented the oncoming traffic from seeing the truck. 

There are many issues that arise when cars and large trucks collide with tragic consequences.  This accident involved a passenger car driver who was unable to avoid an accident after the truck driver negligently created a dangerous situation by blocking the eastbound roadway.  Another complicating factor in this case is that there is a separate owner of the tractor-trailer who also must be named in the litigation.  The tractor-trailer owner is liable for the injuries, and in this case fatalities, caused by the driver if he was negligent in hiring a driver who did not have adequate training and experience.  In addition, if the truck driver had a history of negligent or reckless driving and the trucking company did not do a proper background check, then the owner is liable for the harm caused by his driver. In addition, under Florida law, the owner of a truck is responsible for the actions of its driver.

In a truck accident case such as this, the truck accident attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano need to prove that the driver of the tractor-trailer negligently crossed the eastbound lanes of traffic on State Road 520, did not drive in a manner that yielded the right-of way to oncoming traffic, and did not ensure that the long length of the tractor-trailer did not block the path of oncoming traffic.  Since the driver failed to do this, two people tragically lost their lives.

Under Florida law, in order to prove negligence, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the driver of the tractor trailer had a legal duty to drive his truck with reasonable care, making certain that he does not put any people sharing the road with him in jeopardy of avoidable risks.  In order to show that the driver breached his duty to the injured party, the risk of harm must have been foreseeable.  In the case where the truck driver did not pull his trailer out of the eastbound lanes of traffic, it was foreseeable that a car traveling in the eastbound lanes would not be able to see the truck at night in time to stop.  The height of the trailer chassis posed a unique danger of an accident where the passenger car would travel under the trailer a certain distance, putting the occupants of the vehicle in extreme peril.

A breach of duty is the second element of negligence.  A duty of care is breached when a person fails to satisfy the requisite standard of care. A truck driver has a duty to drive his tractor-trailer in such a manner as to keep other drivers safe.  The fact that the driver of the tractor-trailer in the lawsuit was left in the eastbound lane while the rig was trying to turn onto the interstate is evidence that the driver breached his duty of care.

The third element that must be proven in order to succeed in the lawsuit and get the family members of the victims of this horrific accident compensation for their tremendous loss is causation.  The actions of the defendants must have caused the accident.  The driver clearly caused the mother and son to drive under the tractor trailer by failing to pull his trailer out of the roadway in a safe manner, which directly caused the death of the mother and son.  The owner of the tractor-trailer indirectly caused the tragic accident by negligently hiring a driver who did not have the training and skills to drive the large truck in a safe manner.

Finally, the negligent action must have caused actual damages.  In this case, the harm is horrifically clear.  The negligence of the truck driver caused the death of two people.  This loss is felt by the family of the deceased for the remainder of their lives.  The damages will be measured in pain and suffering, lost earnings, and other economic loss.  The true harm never will be addressed, but courts and juries do what is possible to achieve justice for those impacted by the devastating loss.

The experienced Miami personal injury attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano understand the emotional devastation experienced by family members who have lost loved ones in a truck accident.  We are members of APITLA ( The Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyer’s of America) an organization comprised of attorneys who take additional courses in how to handle a Trucking accident in order to prove fault, causation and damages. This training has helped our lawyers consistently get great results from our clients in trucking cases.  Our attorneys will work with our clients to get some measure of justice with the assistance of accident reconstruction and financial experts who can make a jury understand the terrible injustice and economic impact resulting from the devastating accident.  To schedule a free consultation and discuss your case with our compassionate attorneys, please call us at  (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or email us through our website.