Illinois Tractor Trailer Accident Results in $15.6 million Settlement

In Illinois, a flatbed tractor trailer rolled over and hit a family’s car which was on the side of the road with a flat tire. Pierce, who was 6 years old, was riding in his parent’s car when it got a flat tire. Pierce’s father, who was 36, pulled over on the side of the Interstate and got out to change the tire. While changing the tire, a flatbed trailer road rolled over and two boom lifts it was carrying broke free, one piece of the lift fell on to the car which burst into flames. Pierce, who was 6 years old and strapped in the car seat, died in the fire. Another piece of equipment struck the father, traumatically amputating his left leg below the knee. He incurred medical expenses of approximately $244,000 and earned about $30,000 annually. The mother, who was also present, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and incurred about $55,200 in medical costs. She was unable to work and claimed $670,000 in future lost income. The father subsequently died unrelated approximately two years later.
The estate of Pierce’s father, along with Pierce’s mother on behalf of her son’s estate, sued the owner of the trailer, the manufacturer of the boom lifts, and the company that chose which flatbed trailer would be used. The suit against the trailer’s owner was based on vicarious liability, claiming among other things that the truck driver was speeding and failed to keep the tractor trailer under control. Suit against the manufacturer of the boom lift alleged that it negligently loaded the lifts onto the trailer and set them in such a way, making the flatbed trailer subject to rollover. The company that selected the flatbed trailer was sued, alleging that it failed to specify a drop deck trailer to transport the two lifts.
Plaintiff’s experts included Don Asa, heavy vehicles, motor carrier safety and regulatory compliance, Scottsdale, Arizona; Kenneth Baker, accident reconstruction, Wilmette, Illinois; Nathan Ware, vehicle dynamics, stability in accident reconstruction, Grand Haven, Michigan; Michael Steven Pinzur, orthopedic surgery, Maywood, Illinois; and James Radkey, vocational rehabilitation, Northbrook, Illinois.
Defendant’s experts included Anita Kerezman, transportation and trucking, Scottsdale, Arizona; Art Atkinson, heavy vehicles and motors, Glendale, Arizona; Dagmar Buzeman Jewkes, accident reconstruction and engineering, Aurora, Illinois; John Flies, transportation logistics and logistics management, Des Moines, Iowa; and George Caird, transportation, engineering and trailer design, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
The parties settled before trial for $15.6 million of which Pierce’s mother received $10.1 million and Pierce’s and his father’s estates divided the remaining $5.1 million. The trailer’s owner paid $7.6 million of the settlement and the logistics company and boom lift manufacturer each paid $4 million.