$2.9 Million Settlement to Fla.Woman Hurt in Road-Construction Crash

As she drove her car through road construction along Interstate 10 in Florida on Dec. 19, 2009, Melicent Sanders slowed quickly as a construction dump truck dropped its speed precariously in front of her. But even as she avoided a crash with the dump truck, a large van behind her didn’t stop in time, smashing into the rear of her car, causing serious injuries to Sanders.

More than four years later, Sanders has received a damage settlement of about $2.9 million from the construction company that was performing the highway work, from the trucking company that owned the dump truck and from the van driver who struck her Volkswagen, according to an April 15 story in The Florida Times-Union newspaper.

Sanders was driving along I-10 that day as part of her job with the state Department of Children and Families as a child protective investigator, the paper reported. She was heading out to investigate a child abuse claim. She never arrived for that visit. Instead, as she drove through the construction area, her car was struck by the van from behind, which was traveling about 60 mph, and wedged into the rear of the dump truck, which had slowed to about 25 mph, the story reported.

“Both drivers didn’t think she survived,” the paper reported. “I seen her slumped over the wheel, and I just froze,” Lorenza Toller, the truck driver, told the paper. “I stopped, you know, I just froze because I assumed that she was dead.”

The problem, Sanders’ attorney told the paper, was that the company that was doing the highway project, Hubbard Construction, failed to adequately post required advisory signs and other warnings about the road project. That meant that approaching drivers were not adequately warned about the hazards that lay ahead. Hubbard Construction had been hired by the state on an almost $58 million contract to add lanes to the formerly four-lane highway, “but the company didn’t close either of the lanes or add an emergency lane for oncoming construction vehicles,” the paper reported.

“When one employee complained it wasn’t safe for dump trucks to leave the highway without room to slow down, he was told they weren’t ‘going to be there long enough to go through all the preparation of closing a lane, building a flat spot for the trucks to run off,’” according to a deposition described in the story. “If the truck company couldn’t do the job, he said, the construction company could find somebody else to do it.”

Sanders sustained serious injuries in the crash, including brain bleeding,  a fractured left arm and a shattered kneecap, the story reported. “She went a into a coma, and today, she doesn’t remember the incident,” her attorney told the paper.

“It is about construction zone safety,” the attorney told the paper, “and the hidden dangers that the traveling public would never see and the responsibility of the construction companies to provide safe passage. … When they violate the law and have sloppy practices, they’re going to be held liable.”

Under the settlement, Hubbard Construction is paying $2 million in damages, while the dump truck company is paying $950,000, the paper reported. Kelly Raulerson, the driver of the van that struck Sanders’ car, is paying $10,000.

These kinds of cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle accidents through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.