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Jury Awards $18.5 Million to the Estates of Two Men Killed in Trucking Accident

Trucking accident verdicts and settlements in wrongful death lawsuits will not bring back missed loved ones, but they can help support the families of the deceased financially and, in some cases, persuade trucking companies to change their policies in an effort to increase highway safety. This is the case in one recent trucking accident verdict.

In 2011, a fatal accident occurred on Interstate 94 in Indiana, resulting in the deaths of Daniel Van Dyke, 44, and Richard Hannah, 47. Van Dyke, the driver of one of the vehicles involved, is survived by his wife. Hannah, Van Dyke’s passenger, is survived by his wife and two sons.

Icy conditions caused a vehicle in front of the two victims to spin and become disabled. Van Dyke and Hannah, had to stop and were rear ended by a semi hauling 21 tons of marble. The semi was driven by a Celadon Trucking Services Inc. employee, Earnest Johnson.

The lawsuit was brought by the wives of Van Dyke and Hannah. According to the plaintiffs’ claims, the deaths of Van Dyke and Hannah were allegedly a result of Johnson’s reckless/negligent driving. They claimed that Johnson was driving too fast for road conditions. The semi’s EOBR recorded Johnson’s speed to be 65 miles per hour, with the cruise control on, just before impact.

The trucking company, Celadon, claimed that the accident was unavoidable because invisible ice was present. Furthermore, they claimed that the driver of the other vehicle and Van Dyke failed to maintain proper control of their vehicles and, thus, were contributorily negligent.

The jury found the semi driver, Johnson, 60 percent at fault and the trucking company, Celadon, 40 percent at fault for the trucking accident. Van Dyke’s estate was awarded a total of $7.5 million and the jury awarded Hannah’s estate $11 million. In addition, Celadon has voluntarily changed its policies regarding cruise control and its employees are no longer allowed to use cruise control during inclement weather.