Large Truck Accidents | Featured Articles
March 22 2004 - Truck Driver Found Not to Be Cause of Accident
On Aug. 15, 2001, Amber Vargo was involved in a motor vehicle accident on southbound Interstate Route 81 in Union Township when her vehicle became wedged under a tractor-trailer.
Vargo claimed that she was driving in the right lane when the truck owned by Werner Enterprises Inc. moved into her lane, forcing her to move onto the shoulder and causing her to lose control of her vehicle and travel under the truck. Vargo, 18 at the time, was traveling to Hershey Park with 17-year-old Kayla Barber, who corroborated Vargo’s version of the accident.
Vargo was hospitalized for two weeks and underwent surgical repair of the pelvis, debridement of a puncture wound on her thigh and placement of a vena cava filter for blood clotting.
The defendants claimed that Vargo was traveling on the right shoulder in an attempt to pass the tractor-trailer when she struck it, causing her to swerve onto the shoulder, lose control of the vehicle and drive under the truck.
The truck driver, Brandon Coslet, testified that after safely moving into the right lane, he felt the impact of Vargo’s vehicle strike the right side of his tractor-trailer. He did not see Vargo’s vehicle before the impact. After looking into his right-side mirror and seeing Vargo’s vehicle wedged under the tractor-trailer, Coslet pulled onto the right shoulder.
The testimony of two truck drivers who witnessed the accident supported the defense version.
Plaintiff’s counsel argued that these witnesses were biased because of they were truck drivers like the defendant, while Barber was an independent witness who supported Vargo’s version of the accident.
The plaintiff’s expert, relying on measurements made by police officers at the scene of the accident, performed calculations showing that the distance between the two impacts was insufficient to allow the tractor-trailer to be completely in the right lane at the time of the first impact and completely in the left lane at the time of the second impact. According to the expert, photographs of scuff and skid marks on the roadway surface, as well as the truck driver’s deposition testimony, confirmed that the truck was completely in the left lane at the time of the second impact. Therefore, he concluded the truck was not completely in the right lane at the time of the first impact. According to the plaintiff’s expert, the truck driver failed to observe Vargo’s vehicle in the right lane when he changed lanes.
The defendants’ expert, relying on the same police measurements, concluded that the evidence showed Vargo was traveling on the shoulder when she struck the tractor-trailer. He also opined that the evidence showed Vargo maintained her speed or traveled faster than the tractor-trailer after the first impact, although there was adequate time and distance for her to slow to stop.
The defense expert further testified that the photographs showed that the truck had not moved completely into the left lane at the time of the second impact. In his opinion, the accident was caused by Vargo’s inappropriate attempt to pass the truck while traveling on the shoulder.
Following a five-day trial, the eight-person jury deliberated for about six hours over two days before returning a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendants, finding the driver was negligent but that his negligence was not a substantial factor in bringing about Vargo’s injuries. The plaintiff has filed a post-trial motion seeking a new trial. That motion is still pending.
In all large truck cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a large truck accident, call the Truck Accident Lawyers Group, Inc. now at (877) 736-4222 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.