A woman in Virginia has settled her car accident lawsuit for $8 million, according to a recent report from The Daily Press in Newport News. Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers know it is unusual for someone to receive such a high amount, it’s not unheard of – particularly in cases with catastrophic injury or death and especially when the motorist was on the job or in a company vehicle, as was the case here.
According to reports of the case, plaintiff suffered a closed-head traumatic brain injury, and as a result, lost the ability to earn a living, as well as partake in many activities of daily living. This kind of catastrophic injury results in a tremendous, lifelong loss of life enjoyment, which was likely something defendant took into account when agreeing to settle for such a significant sum (it’s the fourth-highest in Virginia to date, according to Virginia Lawyers Weekly).
The defendant in this case was a Massachusetts-based environmental services firm that was hired to clean out a number of tanks at a site in Virginia. It was a months-long, eight-person assignment. One of those workers was the purportedly negligent driver.
Police reported the 2014 crash occurred when the 59-year-old worker became intoxicated in his motel room and then climbed into a company pickup truck on his way to a local restaurant and bar. It was shortly after 8:30 p.m. when he slammed into the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle as she slowed down, preparing to stop for a red light. The force of the collision pushed the 56-year-old plaintiff’s vehicle into the intersection, where she was struck by another vehicle. Defendant driver’s blood-alcohol level was later measured to be 0.15 – nearly twice the legal limit.
Plaintiff’s injury lawyer accused the defendant driver of operating defendant employer’s vehicle carelessly, recklessly and negligently. Defendant later pleaded guilty to DUI, paid a $500 fine and had his license restricted for a year.
Prior to the collision, plaintiff was a licensed practical nurse (LPN), but she has not been able to return to work. Her attorneys initially sought $30 million in damages.
Driving a vehicle while drunk is failure to use reasonable care.
As for how the company could be held liable, our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys know that here in Florida, employers can be vicariously liable for the negligent conduct of their employees who are acting in the course and scope of employment. Vehicle owners, too, can be vicariously liable for harm caused by the negligent operation of their motor vehicles – even if they weren’t behind the wheel. Vicarious liability means one does not need to prove the defendant was negligent, but rather defendant was responsible for the harm caused by someone who was negligent.
In this case, however, the allegation was direct negligence due to failure to control the conduct of a servant. Specifically, there was another incident one year prior to this crash where a worker for the same company drove drunk with a company vehicle and killed two people. After that, the company instructed supervisors to better control the vehicles, but there is no evidence policy changed much. While the supervisors’ vehicles were kept under lock-and-key, crews had free reign to use company pickup trucks to stores and restaurants. They only had to go to the hotel clerk and identify themselves as an employee and they were given the keys.
The company conceded negligence prior to the trial, which lasted several days. Before jury deliberations, though, both sides reached a settlement.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
$8 million settlement reached over 2014 Newport News car crash, Nov. 27, 2017, By Peter Dujardin, The Daily Press
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Pizza Deliver Crash Raises Questions of Employer Liability, Nov. 14, 2017, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog