Tractor trailor strikes 16-year-old girl; Driver convicted of manslaughter; jury verdict despite Defendant’s frivolous defenses

An Albemarle Couty jury rendered a verdict of $5,250,000 plus $450,000 in interest for a family of a teenager killed in a tractor trailer crash. The verdict was for the family of the 16 year old girl who suffered fatal injuries on Route 29 North in May of 2008 according to the Daily Progress newspaper. The young woman was killed when a tractor trailer ran a red light. Eyewitness testimony and physical evidence established that the truck’s light was red for 6 seconds before it entered the intersection and struck her car. The driver pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and is serving two years in jail. The defendants asserted the defense of contributory negligence and asked for a defense verdict, based on an unfounded allegation that the teen failed to use reasonable care in looking left before proceeding on her green arrow. We hear a great deal in the media about frivolous lawsuits, but not about frivolous defenses such as this one.

Beneficiaries were the mother, father and brother – the jury awarded each $1.75 Million. The father testified as to the daily devastation this senseless tragedy has visited on him and his family. Some added facts makes this result even more impressive. Members of the esteemed Michie Hamlett law firm achieved this verdict with less than $5000 in special damages, which consisted only of funeral expenses. There were no medical bills, as the victim died at the scene, and those funeral expenses were on the verdict form in addition to the $5.25 million. Also, prior to instructing the jury, the Court struck the punitive damages claim and overruled the objections to the contributory negligence instruction. So the overwhelming portion of the verdict was based only on intangible losses. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car, truck or tractor trailer crash, e-mail us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd., or call 703-796-9555 today because there are strict, short time limits regarding wrongful death cases in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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