Fatal Crash Caused by Trucker Leads to $26M Settlement

In an instant, the lives of three people were dramatically changed as they were traveling in a Toyota two summers ago on Interstate 80 in northern Pennsylvania when a tractor-trailer barreled down on them and smashed into their car while they were stopped in a construction zone.

One man in the Toyota died, while his son-in-law suffered catastrophic brain injuries that have left him unable to walk normally or speak clearly, according to a story in The Legal Intelligencer. A woman in the vehicle was the wife of the man who was critically injured and is the daughter of the man who died, according to the story. She “witnessed the death of her father, the death of her two dogs and the catastrophic injury of her husband,” the story said.

Now, almost two years after the July 2010 tragedy, the case was settled for $26.1 million in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, bringing to a close a horrific chapter in the lives of this family.

An ambulance stands ready to treat injured victims in this stock photo from a vehicle crash scene on a highway. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/tillsonburg

The case serves as a reminder of the importance of excellent legal representation to help you and your family fight for the damages and compensation that you deserve after you are seriously injured due to the actions of others.

The tractor-trailer was being driven by defendant Spencer Chapman, who worked for GLC Transportation Inc., the story reported. The crash killed David Cook and critically injured Peter M. “P.J.” Sneeringer, who before the crash worked as a motorcycle and ATV salesman.

“Traffic was stopped because of road construction, and the tractor-trailer was traveling at 71 mph when it hit the Toyota,” according to the plaintiffs’ mediation memorandum. “Before the tractor-trailer rear-ended the Toyota, Chapman raised the cruise control speed on his truck to 72.5 mph 34 seconds prior to impact, according to the plaintiffs’ mediation memorandum.”

That information, which was the result of deep investigation by the plaintiff’s attorneys, played heavily in the plaintiff’s case against the truck driver and other defendants. “By driving a tractor-trailer past construction signs beyond a point when he should have been aware he was in a construction zone and ‘to actually increase the speed of the tractor-trailer even further above the posted speed limit and being so unaware … constituted reckless behavior that would have mandated this case go to the jury as a punitive damages case,’ plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel J. Mann of Feldman Shepherd” told the paper.

The other defendants in the case included Great Lakes Cheese Co., Great Lakes Cheese of Ohio, Great Lakes Cheese of New York and Chapman, the Intelligencer reported.

The defendants argued that the truck driver was a skilled driver who was the victim of intense sun glare just before the accident occurred. “Mr. Chapman had driven tractor-trailers for 36 years without accident,” according to a defense memorandum. “While [his] judgment on this day may have been suspect, his background, equipment, character and demonstrated driving skill are historically impeccable.”

Instead, the defense argued, “Chapman’s vision was impaired by a sun glare on the newly paved highway and that he moved the vehicle toward the left after seeing a Budget rental truck suddenly change lanes and slow down abruptly.”

The plaintiffs, however, countered that “the weather was clear and dry, the sun was behind Chapman and the road was straight in the two miles before the location of the accident, providing ‘perfect visibility for drivers,'” the story reported.

This kind of intense research and factual review of all of the nuances in your case are why you need the most experienced, caring and compassionate attorneys on your side as you and your family pursue claims against those who have harmed you.

From detailed investigating to the calling of expert witnesses to securing medical reports and prognoses for your injuries, your legal team has to be able to get to the facts at hand and show the court why your legal argument is the right one.

If you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, we here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you, consult with you and represent you as you make your way through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, call MyPhillyLawyer.