Trucking & Commercial Auto
Auto and trucking accident claims are among the most common legal liability claims, but that does not diminish the level of detail needed to successfully defend them. Our attorneys are well-versed in the extensive body of law and industry standards affecting auto and trucking accident cases. We also draw upon a reliable network of medical, engineering, accident reconstruction and trucking experts to expose weaknesses in plaintiffs’ claims.
The hours following an accident are critical. Our Rapid Response Team of professionals is “on-call” to collect and preserve important evidence, gather information, interview witnesses, and provide informed legal counsel to your company and driver. Our attorneys stand ready to coordinate accident reconstruction experts, field investigators and independent adjusters in the event of a serious accident.
Trucking Accident Plaintiff Demanded $1 Million Dollar Settlement: Firm attorneys secured a $0 jury verdict after a weeklong trial in Federal Court. The case involved a high speed three-vehicle trucking accident in which a co-defendant truck collided with our insured truck before striking plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff was well-represented by a firm who recently was successful in obtaining a $51 million dollar verdict in a well-publicized trucking case. Plaintiff initially demanded a $1 million settlement from our insured and threatened to seek an excess verdict. They argued that our insured driver was negligent for slowing on the interstate and went so far as to claim our insured company was negligent for hiring and retaining the driver and asked the jury for several million dollars. Despite being the only defendant left at trial, Messrs. Phayer and Foster convinced the jury that our insured was blame-free and obtained a zero defense verdict.
Wrongful Death Involving a Paving and Asphalt Contractor: In October 2019, Firm attorneys André C. Gaudin and Joseph J. Valencino secured a defense verdict in a Mississippi road-construction, wrongful death case following a five-day jury trial in Jackson County, Mississippi. Plaintiffs sued a paving and asphalt contractor and the local county government for their alleged combined fault in causing the single vehicle accident. The decedent drove or “fell” off the newly paved road, allegedly was unable to correct or re-steer onto the roadway due to a steep drop off or low shoulder caused by the paving operation, struck an intersecting roadway and was ejected from the vehicle and perished. Plaintiffs alleged that the insured’s paving operations created a hazard on the roadway and that, further, the insured failed to warn the motoring public and the decedent of the hazard by failing to install or maintain low or no shoulder warning signs at the site. Plaintiffs sought economic and general damages and additionally claimed punitive damages. While asserting the usual defenses to duty and breach thereof, Firm attorneys specifically pushed back against plaintiffs’ proximate cause position. Critically, this defense was crystallized by exposing the pre-trial opinions of plaintiffs’ own accident reconstruction expert, who testified at trial in a manner contrary to his report and discovery deposition. Mid-trial motion practice successfully discharged the negligence per se, joint venture (with the county) and punitive damage claims, but the trial judge preserved the simple negligence claim for consideration and determination by the jury. The jury, hearing the claims against the insured paving contractor reached only the first question on the jury verdict form: Was [the insured] negligent and did the negligence of [the insured] proximately cause or contribute to [plaintiffs’ decedent’s] single vehicle accident and subsequent death? The jury answered: “No.”
Rear-end accident involving an 18-wheeler: The Firm settled a contentious case at mediation for $150,000 where plaintiff rear-ended our insured’s 18- wheeler. Plaintiff suffered severe injuries that prevented him from returning to his job as a mechanic, and had plaintiff prevailed at trial he likely would have recovered over $1 million in damages. Liability was disputed, as plaintiff’s accident reconstructionist contended that our insured had illegally stopped his truck in the roadway without engaging in appropriate hazard lights and warning signals required by Federal Regulations. We retained an accident reconstructionist who pointed out that even if our driver had not employed proper precautions (which we denied), the plaintiff nevertheless had ample time to avoid the accident. The case was complicated by the death of a witness who observed the accident and loss of evidence that occurred before the insurer received notice of the claim.
Rear-End Accident Involving Bulldozer: The Firm successfully represented Defendant, his company, and his insurer, in a five-day jury trial in Beauregard Parish. Plaintiff alleged Defendant rear-ended her Ford F150 pick-up truck with his bulldozer while she was stuck in the mud. Defendant denied it; witnesses supported both accounts. Plaintiff asked for more than $1.1 million for a two level discectomy with plate and cadaver bone placement and a right carpal tunnel release. After heavy cross-examination, the jury remained impressed with the firm’s medical expert who walked them through plaintiff’s two pre-surgery MRI films, something plaintiff’s treating surgeon did not do. In the end, the jury believed the defense and reached a no liability defense verdict.
Auto Accident Wrongful Death Case: Our attorneys obtained a summary judgment dismissal for a client in a wrongful death action. The court found that there was no question of fact that plaintiff would not be able to prove at trial that the insured’s tires were on the deceased’s vehicle at the time of the fatal accident.