Our team remotely settled a wrongful death case and brought much-needed justice to a deserving family.
In January of 2019, Carlos was driving to the store with his wife Maria and two-year-old son, Jefferson. His wife Maria was in the back seat, keeping an eye on Jefferson who was secured in his car seat. Their car was idle as Carlos yielded to traffic, waiting to make a legal left turn into a shopping center when they were rear-ended by a large commercial truck traveling at a speed of 50 miles per hour.
The crash’s impact forced a tire and parts of their trunk into the car’s back seat where Maria was seated, and her injuries proved fatal. Witnesses reported seeing Maria’s body embracing her son’s car seat in the final moments of her life. Carlos and his son Jefferson were blessed to have survived the collision with non-fatal injuries but had lost a spouse and a loving mother.
Maria left behind a loving husband and four dear children.
Gross Negligence Leads to Fatality
An employee of Iron Horse Tools was operating the commercial truck responsible for Maria’s death. This company provides equipment and services to organizations within the oil and gas industry. The truck driver, Larry Land, had a long history of sleep apnea and fatigue. Furthermore, the investigation lead by Vuk Vujasinovic revealed that Mr. Land was under the influence of several controlled substances at the time of the accident, including Valium and Tylenol 3, both medications that have been known to cause unmanageable drowsiness.
Iron Horse Failed to Screen & Monitor Their Employees
Iron Horse Tools hired and allowed Larry Land to operate company trucks despite having knowledge of:
- A diagnosis of moderate to severe sleep apnea which was left untreated against a doctor’s instruction.
- Prescribed medications for two controlled substances, Toprol and Lsanoprol, both of which include “drowsiness” as potential side effects.
- A drug test that tested positive for Valium, another controlled substance that is closely associated with drowsiness and was not voluntarily disclosed by Mr. Land.
VB Attorneys retained a medical doctor, board-certified neurologist, and sleep medicine specialist to identify the cause of the crash. The expert found the cause of the crash to be a result of:
- Sleepiness due to medication effect
- Untreated obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
- Chronic and acute sleep deprivation related to grossly excessive work hours
There’s no question that fatigued driving creates dangerous conditions that lead to accidents on our roads. And those dangers are exacerbated when companies carelessly hire unfit drivers and do a poor job at monitoring their driving conditions.
Iron Horse Failed to Uphold Their Own Safety Guidelines
After several crashes directly related to unsafe driving behavior in 2011, Iron Horse Tools decided to create a written manual that outlined much-needed safety guidelines for their employees. In their own “Vehicle Safety Program,” Iron Horse Tools heavily emphasized fatigue, notably citing “FATIGUE KILLS.” And yet, they failed to put their own procedures and safety rules into practice.
Through investigation, VB Attorneys uncovered many safety violations.
During the six months leading up to the crash, Mr. Land had repeatedly violated the rules and guidelines in Iron Horse’s “Vehicle Safety Program” related to driving hours, hours on duty, hours of rest, and days off per week. In the three months leading up to the crash, Mr. Land worked stints of 19, 26, and 27 straight days. Iron Horse Tools was aware of the safety violations and chose to do nothing.
Our investigation uncovered failures at each and every level of supervision.
Shockingly, Mr. Land’s boss, Larry White, had never even seen the “Vehicle Safety Program” before the crash. Mr. Land, the truck driver responsible for the accident, testified that he was not familiar with any of the fatigue safety guidelines in the “Vehicle Safety Program.” Iron Horse Tools chose to point fingers at each other instead of taking any accountability for their failure to enforce their own rules.
Wrongful Death Case Settles Despite COVID-19 Pandemic
Our law firm was able to remotely meditate the case and strong-arm Iron Horse’s defense attorneys into settling for a favorable, confidential amount. Although no amount of money could mend the wounds caused by such catastrophe, the settlement we acquired for Carlos and his children was substantial enough to cover all the expenses and provide his family the financial safety net that they desperately needed.
Our team was proud to deliver an excellent result for a great client. While many business professionals are making excuses and using the COVID-19 pandemic to catch up on sleep, our attorneys are busy working hard for our clients and settling big cases. VB Attorneys held countless teleconference meetings, spent hundreds of hours in remote depositions, and remotely mediated and settled the lawsuit for Carlos and his children.
COVID-19 will not keep us from fighting for our clients.