Two years ago, in a similar case, a jury awarded a $281 million verdict to the family of a U.S. veteran who was killed in a truck accident in Dimmit County, TX. Hagood and two other lawyers handled the wrongful death case which resulted in one of the largest verdicts in the State of Texas, according to Eagle Pass Business Journal.
“I’m proud of the work we do on behalf of the injured and families who lost loved ones,” Hagood said. “We routinely obtain large settlements and verdicts. These awards not only help injured victims and their families put their lives back together, but they send a strong message to trucking companies that they will be held accountable if they try to cut corners. Far too often, trucking companies allow unqualified drivers on the roads not only in South Texas but throughout the United States. The consequences of the trucking company’s negligence can be devastating.”
Guzman, a man in his mid-20s at the time of the crash who had a wife and two young children, was working temporarily as a van driver for a local hotel, according to court documents. He also helped with chores at the hotel to earn money to support his family, documents state. The lawsuit states his goal was to finish school to become an auto-body repair technician and painter.
Documents state the accident occurred on June 13, 2009, in Laredo. Guzman’s injuries included herniated disks in his lower back. The documents state he was treated with medication, physical therapy, rest, time off work and injections, among other treatment, but none of these “conservative” measures worked.
Documents also state that as a last resort he underwent back surgery, but could not return to work full time because of his pain and back problems. Guzman’s passenger, Lambert, was in the back seat and sustained less severe injuries that resulted in him being out of work for about a month, documents state.
The jury awarded Guzman $1,314,000 and $20,500 to Lambert.
The documents state that Hagood’s investigation revealed the truck driver allegedly had serious medical problems, which the lawsuit alleges was a contributing cause of the accident.
The court documents allege that Jones gave diametrically opposed conflicting accounts about how the collision occurred. According to court documents, the plaintiff’s attorneys discovered that Caledon allegedly had an improper evidence preservation policy that lead to the destruction of Electronic Control Module (ECM)-related computer data that would have recorded the driver’s speed and braking immediately before the crash.
According to court documents, Celadon and Jones admitted they were solely negligent in causing the collision.
“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are safety rules designed to prevent unsafe and unqualified drivers from operating 80,000 pound commercial motor vehicles on our roads,” Hagood said. “Safety is the highest priority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The primary purpose of its regulations is to promote the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles to enhance safety thereby reducing highway fatalities, injuries and property damage. Once trucking companies learn that it is more expensive and therefore less profitable to violate these regulations, they will hire safe drivers and demand compliance with the safety regulations. Until then, the health and safety of our highways are in danger.”