Between a Rock and a Hard Place


Has this ever happened to you? You’re traveling down the highway at about the legal speed limit – you know this because your cruise control is set to 68 mph. You suddenly recognize that a tractor trailer ahead in your lane is barely moving. To your left, oncoming traffic prevents you from changing lanes to avoid hitting the slow-moving truck. You are in a bad situation with no clear way out.

This was precisely the case on a long, straight stretch of highway near Dublin in Laurens County, Georgia when two tractor trailer vehicles were involved in a collision that destroyed both trucks. The driver of truck behind the slower truck sustained injuries including a broken wrist, a fractured sternum, and a right leg crushed so badly that it had to be rebuilt several times.  The leg, as of the trial date, could no longer function well enough to allow this driver to engage in his work as a truck driver. This 57-year old man is permanently disabled.

Almost always in a rear-end collision, the driver of the vehicle hitting from behind is considered to be at fault. The logic is that if he is driving prudently, he should see the stopped or slowed vehicle in time to stop safely. In this case, however, because the defendant’s truck was traveling at such a slow rate of speed without initializing his hazard lights, the injured driver sought help from the judicial system.

Unfortunately the trucks were both damaged so badly that the on-board black boxes were useless in determining who was at fault.

It was up to the Superior Court of Laurens County, Georgia, presiding Judge H. Gibbs Flanders to determine who was ultimately at fault. The defendant claimed that his truck had been running hot, so he slowed to 50 to 60 mph to allow it to cool down. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s vehicle was traveling at or about the minimum allowable speed, 40 mph.

Because both vehicles were destroyed so thoroughly, it was apparent there was a significant difference in the rate of speed the trucks were moving.

The Jury in the Laurens County Superior Court granted the plaintiff $2,210,401. The award was broken down as $210,401 for medical expenses, and $2,000,000 for pain and suffering. From this Verdict, the court subtracted 37 percent to allow for the comparative negligence on the part of the plaintiff. In total, the plaintiff was awarded $1,392,552 to compensate for the disability that will prevent him from working in the future.

The more you drive, the more likely you are to be caught in a difficult situation like this one. This accident replays itself day after day on highways across the country. Sometimes it is easy to see how the accident happened and why. Others cases are not so simple.

Sometimes one needs the fresh eyes of an experienced attorney to sort it all out. If you have been injured in an accident, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to consider whether or not your injuries are the fault of someone else. It’s possible that you can be compensated for your pain and suffering even when, as in this case, you may be partially to blame. Call or email the offices of Millar and Mixon for a free review of your case.