Dempsey & Kingsland Secures $5 Million Settlement in Truck Collision Death Case

Dempsey & Kingsland Secures $5 Million Settlement in Truck Collision Death Case

The Dempsey & Kingsland firm obtained a $5 million settlement for a client in a wrongful death arising from a truck collision.

Missouri Lawyers Weekly reported that this was the 5th largest settlement of the year.

Jane Doe

At 1:40 on a clear and sunny January afternoon, Jane Doe was on her way to work as a cleaning supervisor at the General Motors Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City.

She was 55 years old and worked 60 hours per week to support herself, her grown daughter, and her two grandchildren. In her free time, she was an active member and usher at the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church.

As she was traveling westbound on a section of I-70 called the Lewis and Clarke Viaduct, the left front tire of Ms. Doe’s car went flat. She pulled over onto the shoulder. However, the shoulder was only 52 inches wide and her car was 78 inches wide, so the car stuck out into the right lane.

A truck driver employed by a trucking company was also traveling westbound on the Lewis and Clark Viaduct, driving a loaded tractor-trailer.

The electronic control module mounted on the truck showed that the trucker was traveling at 58 mph — above the posted speed limit of 55 mph.

As shown in an accident re-creation video created for the Dempsey & Kingsland firm, the Viaduct was relatively straight in the area where Ms. Doe’s car was stopped. At the speed he was traveling, the trucker should have been able to see it for more than eight seconds.

Although traffic was light on the Viaduct, the trucker didn’t change lanes to avoid Ms. Doe’s car. The 18-wheeler plowed right into the back of it, crushing it against the concrete Viaduct wall.

Ms. Doe’s spine was severed by the impact. Her car’s gas tank was punctured and the car burst into flames.

Ms. Doe was trapped inside her car as she burned to death. She lived for at least three to four minutes after the collision – in horrible pain.

Her autopsy showed that she died from a combination of smoke inhalation and blunt trauma to her spine. Her body was burned beyond recognition and could only be identified from her dental records.

In addition to her daughter and grandchildren, Ms. Doe also left behind two grown sons.

The Truck Driver

The trucker admitted that he neither braked, nor swerved, nor took any other evasive action to avoid hitting Ms. Doe’s car. He was found guilty of careless driving.

In a written statement dated the day of the accident, but admittedly written the day after, the trucker said that a slow-moving tractor-trailer ahead of him in the center lane blocked his view of Ms. Doe’s car when he passed this alleged truck on the right. However, he made no mention of this phantom truck to the Kansas City police officers who reported to the scene of the accident, nor did he mention it in his statement to the police department later that day.

In fact, the trucker told the police that he moved into the right lane in order to exit on the Fairfax District ramp — not to pass another vehicle.

The slow-moving truck “alibi” was prepared by the trucker at the direction of the trucking company’s Kansas City terminal manager.

The trucking company

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMSCA) requires trucking companies to assure that their drivers are properly-qualified and safe.

Under federal law, a trucking company is required to contact all employers for a trucking job applicant for the previous three years. But the company that employed the driver contacted only one of the trucker’s previous employers – his aunt.

The trucker stated on his job application that he had been continuously employed during the previous 10 years as a truck driver. In fact, he spent more than three years in confinement due to a probation violation on a drug conviction for transporting large quantities of cocaine from Mexico into the United States.

Although safety meetings are customarily conducted monthly by trucking companies, the trucker attended only three such meetings during the 16 months he was employed with the trucking company.

Mediation and Damages

Dempsey & Kingsland brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company and the trucker. The case went to mediation.

In addition to evidence of the defendants’ negligence and attempts to evade liability, Dempsey & Kingsland presented a report from an economic expert that the present value of the economic support that Ms. Doe would have provided to her surviving family members was $583,991.

As a result of the strong evidence presented by the Dempsey & Kingsland firm, Ms. Doe’s family received an insurance settlement of $5 million.

Dempsey & Kingsland

The Dempsey & Kingsland law firm has provided outstanding legal representation in personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1986. Our office at Dempsey & Kingsland, P.C. has the legal and medical expertise to carefully and skillfully resolve your case. Please call us at (816) 484-3776 or contact us online to discuss your case. We offer free consultation, and we do not charge a fee unless we recover for you.