On March 24, 2019, a Columbus Jury awarded $27 million to the mother of a woman killed in an accident that occurred in January of 2017. The jury’s award consisted of $22 million in compensatory damages and $5 million for the woman’s pain and suffering. The case illustrates the increased dangers for the victims of truck or motorcycle accidents, even under routine circumstances.
On January 26, 2017, George Hooks was driving his 18-wheeler westbound on Macon Road while Cindy Tran Huyhn was headed east on her motorcycle. Both entered the intersection with Technology Parkway on a green light. The accident occurred when Hooks turned left in front of Huynh, who had the right of way because she was proceeding straight. Huynh immediately slammed on the brakes, veered left, and went into a skid. According to eyewitnesses, she almost avoided the collision but clipped the back-end of the truck’s trailer. She was taken to the hospital but unfortunately died the next day. The cause of death was listed as “blunt force trauma to the torso and extremities.”
There appear to be no unusual circumstances that contributed to the accident. The weather was clear, and it is reported that Mr. Hooks had a clear view of the road ahead for at least 1,000 feet. Police were able to determine that Ms. Huyhn was not speeding at the time the accident occurred.
Accident Highlights Concerns for Motorcyclists
There appears to be no plausible explanation for the accident except that the truck driver simply didn’t “see” Ms. Huyhn on her motorcycle. Visibility is a major concern for motorcyclists, and the accident demonstrates the grave consequences that can occur when drivers do not take note of motorcyclists on the road.
Allegations of Negligence
Ms. Huynh’s family eventually filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming that the trucking company, MDV SpartanNash, should be held liable for Ms. Huynh’s death. The lawsuit alleged that the truck driver’s negligence caused the accident. In order to support their claim for negligence, the plaintiffs alleged that Mr. Hooks had been driving too fast, failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to exercise due care, and failed to stop in time.
Driver Admits Liability Prior to Trial
The defense initially claimed that another truck was blocking the driver’s view of the motorcycle. However, the plaintiffs pointed out that the driver didn’t just have an obligation to yield to oncoming traffic, but also had a duty to exercise due care – if his view was obstructed, he should not have initiated the turn. Regardless, Mr. Hooks later accepted complete responsibility for the accident during his deposition, which took place prior to trial.
Despite Admission Case Proceeds to Trial
Despite the fact that the driver accepted full responsibility for the accident, the case still went to trial. The defendant trucking company and its insurance company believed that the plaintiff’s demand for $25 million was excessive. At trial, the defense argued that the case was worth some amount less than $8 million. The jury obviously disagreed, reaching its verdict of $27 million within 30 minutes.
Injured in an Accident? Contact a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney
This case demonstrates how an ordinary traffic accident can result in very serious injuries and even death. It also illustrates how corporate entities will fight your claim, even when it was clear that they were at fault. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need someone on your side who will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at Slappey & Sadd have been helping injured Georgians since 1992 – we have the knowledge and experience you need to get a fair result. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys, call us at 888-474-9616 or contact us online to discuss your case and how we can help you.