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Pedestrian Hit By Tractor-Trailer Wins $1.25M Settlement

Pedestrian Hit By Tractor-Trailer Wins $1.25M Settlement

On September 17, 2022, the plaintiff, a 67-year-old truck driver, was walking across a busy parking lot when he was struck by a tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer was moving through the lot, turned right, and struck him. The plaintiff was tossed into the air and fell to the ground.

The plaintiff did not lose consciousness, but was bewildered at the scene and asked the same questions to EMS responders every few minutes. When an EMS responder asked if he had been drinking, he responded yes. However, an hour later, the plaintiff’s hospital bloodwork revealed that he had no alcohol in his system.

The plaintiff suffered a brain bleed, lost vision and hearing on his left side, and fractured his right thumb, resulting in decreased grip strength. He was hospitalized for two days before being released. For his thumb fracture, the plaintiff endured two operations as well as significant physical and cognitive rehabilitation.

Liability, contributory negligence, last clear chance, and damages were all highly debated issues. According to dashcam footage, there were no physical obstructions that would have stopped the defendant or plaintiff from seeing each other. The defendant, on the other hand, denied liability, claiming that he did not notice the plaintiff because he was gazing in his side mirrors as he traversed the congested parking lot.

The plaintiff had no recollection of the occurrence and was unable to say if he spotted the approaching truck. The tractor-trailer was seen going left before making a sudden right turn in the video. The plaintiff’s attorney stated that his client observed the truck and concluded it was turning left. The plaintiff also invoked the doctrine of last clear chance.

The parties also disputed whether the plaintiff was permanently incapacitated as a truck driver for FirstFleet, earning $55,000 per year. The plaintiff’s neurologist determined that because the plaintiff suffered short-term memory loss, frequently became confused, and was a falling risk due to the head injury, he would be unlikely to return to competitive employment. FirstFleet admitted that the plaintiff could not return to work as a truck driver. They suggested that he apply for a position as a Walmart greeter.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff was not permanently incapacitated as a result of the collision because he was still driving a car. It also included security footage of the plaintiff ascending a ladder, mowing his grass with a riding mower, and loading a refrigerator into a trailer to go to the dump. The defendant further stated that the plaintiff sought medical treatment for cognitive difficulties several years prior to the event.

The parties were also at odds concerning future medical bills. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s future medical bills would be no more than $50,000. The plaintiff claimed that if his wife was not there to help, he would require escalating degrees of attendant care since he was a fall risk and suffered from mild short-term memory loss and confusion.

The lawsuit did not settle at mediation. FirstFleet insisted on being returned the whole $375,000 workers’ compensation lien. Despite the fact that the plaintiff’s counsel represented him in the negligence claim, the plaintiff retained a workers’ compensation attorney because he believed his company would “take care of” him. Before the negligence claim mediation, FirstFleet arranged a direct settlement with the plaintiff on the workers’ compensation claim. The plaintiff was informed by FirstFleet’s director of risk management that the defendant truck driver’s employer would be compelled to repay the workers’ compensation debt. N.C. Gen. State. 97-10.2. explicitly provides that a plaintiff must pay the lien out of any third-party settlement. 

Plaintiff’s counsel asked a Superior Court judge to extinguish the lien in accordance with N.C. Gen. State. 90-10.2(j). The court approved the plaintiff’s motion and dismissed the lien, concluding that FirstFleet, through its director of risk management, made false statements to the plaintiff, which he presumably relied on to his detriment.


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