Bailey & Greer, PLLC partner Thomas Greer recently obtained a $1.2 million jury verdict on behalf of our client, a truck driver, who was injured when a distracted driver for Short Fuse Trucking rear-ended our client. Under Tennessee’s comparative fault laws, our client will be entitled to just under $1 million for his injuries.
On February 15, 2014, an 18-wheeler owned and operated by Short Fuse Trucking company was driving on I-40 in Jackson, Madison County, TN. For several miles, warning signs told drivers that construction was ahead and that the right lane ended. The Short Fuse truck driver became distracted, looking away from the road, and when he looked back ahead, he saw that traffic was stopped in the left lane. He swerved to the right, but the impact was unavoidable. The Short Fuse truck crashed into the back of the 18-wheeler stopped in traffic. (There was another driver behind the wheel of our client’s big rig at the time.)
Our client was in the sleeping berth of the tractor-trailer rear-ended by the Short Fuse tractor-trailer. The impact was severe, and it knocked him out of the lower bunk and onto the floor. Despite feeling tightness in his low back and pain in his shoulder, our client denied injury at the scene and did not seek medical treatment.
Instead, our client continued his route to Louisville, KY, where he switched into the driver seat and drove 600+ miles back to Texarkana, TX. Our client continued to drive long haul trips for the rest of the week and did not see a doctor until nine days after the wreck.
Since it was an on-the-job injury, our client was treated under Texas’s workers’ compensation system. The workers’ comp doctor prescribed pain medication, muscle relaxers and physical therapy. After four weeks, our client reported no pain and requested a release to return to work. However, our client was not actually pain free at the time; he simply could not afford to be off work any longer, and did not want to be trapped in the workers’ comp system.
A month after his release from the workers’ comp doctor, our client went to his family physician, who ordered an MRI. The MRI revealed degenerative changes in the lower back, as well as multi-level disc herniations.
Our client was then referred to a neurosurgeon, who recommended pain management, specifically epidural steroid injections (ESI). Our client underwent two rounds of ESIs, but they did not provide any significant pain relief. At this point, the only other treatment option available was a complex, risky, multi-level laminectomy and fusion.
The surgery has only a 50-60% success rate, and requires extended time off from work. More critically, even if it is successful, our client may not be able to return to his job as a truck driver. Based on these factors, our client opted not to immediately have surgery. Instead, our client has continued to work as a full-time truck driver for over four years since the wreck. Eventually, however, surgery is inevitable.
At trial, Short Fuse blamed our client for not wearing the safety restraints while sleeping in the bunk. Short Fuse also hired two medical doctors to testify that the herniated discs pre-dated the wreck and that any issues our client had after about one month post-wreck were unrelated.
The Madison County jury returned a verdict for $1.2 million, which included $300,000 for future medical bills, $300,000 for lost earning capacity, $400,000 for permanent injury, $100,000 for pain and suffering and $100,000 for loss of enjoyment of life. The jury also found our client to be 20% at fault for failing to wear the safety harness.
This case has taken a long time to come to fruition, but we are proud to say that justice has been served. At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we do not give up on our clients, and we are proud to stand beside them in the fight for justice. If you have been injured in a truck accident in Memphis, Jackson, or throughout West Tennessee, our injury lawyers will fight for you, too. Please call 901-475-7434 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.