A confidential settlement has been reached for the family of a truck driver, who was parked on the shoulder of an interstate highway after the driver’s tractor-trailer broke down. The driver, who died at the scene, was engulfed in flames because another driver, who fell asleep at the wheel, rear-ended the broken-down tractor-trailer on the shoulder. This settlement, which is close to $18 million, was reached after a week of pre-trial motions just before a jury was selected.
Stephen M. Libman, co-founder and partner of Burnes Libman Law Group, represented the family of the deceased driver and filed suit against two motor carriers and a shipper in this case. This is the third time Burnes Libman has secured an 8-figure settlement for clients in a major trucking crash; it also is the firm’s second catastrophic injury case that involved a tractor-trailer striking a disabled vehicle on the shoulder of a road.
“The trucking company, which employed the driver who fell asleep, was underinsured and had to go into its own pocket for an additional $7 million above its insurance coverage,” stated Libman. “While the driver who fell asleep at the wheel carries a great deal of responsibility for what happened, all defendants in this case share responsibility for this tragedy.”
“Move-over laws like Scott’s Law in Illinois, which was expanded in June of 2001 to include all disabled vehicles displaying flashing lights, are designed to protect motorists with disabled
vehicles parked on a road’s shoulder. The sad truth, however, is that many motorists veer onto the shoulder injuring or killing those who are stranded. This danger is well-known in the industry. Yet, our client’s employer failed to promptly rescue her from an unsafe situation and left her in harm’s way for longer than necessary,” explained Libman.
“Instead of following the established policy by calling a contracted towing vendor to dispatch a nearby tow truck, a second driver was sent to assist and rescue the driver with the broken truck parked on the side of the road. If that action had been taken, this tragedy might have been avoided,” Libman added.
Libman, principal founder of the Center for Trucking Safety, advocates to improve motor carrier and transportation safety through litigation and legislation. The National Trial Lawyers Association recognizes him as one of the top 10 trucking trial lawyers. In 2017, he was appointed president of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.
“We continue to advocate for better roadside safety practices for professional drivers as well as for consumers,” stated Libman. “The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimated there were 5,601 fatalities involving a large truck in 2021, which is a 13 percent increase over the previous year. Twelve percent of those fatalities involved fatalities for drivers on the shoulder of road.”