As Albert Duryea was operating a 60,000-pound tractor-trailer on an interstate highway, he suddenly swerved out of his lane. He sideswiped Sheila Smith's vehicle—which was merging onto the interstate from another highway—dragging it about 300 yards through the highway median before stopping.
Smith, 45, suffered multiple injuries, including lumbar injuries and bulging disks at C4-7. She required trigger-point and epidural steroid injections and underwent back surgery several years after the accident. Her medical expenses were about $124,900. Her 28-year-old son, who was driving the car, suffered neck, back, and hip injuries. He received pain management injection therapy, incurring about $27,000 in medical expenses.
Smith had been a truck driver who had earned about $37,200 annually; she is unable to return to work. Her son missed 15 days from his job as a warehouse worker earning about $139 per day.
Smith and her son sued Duryea’s employer, alleging it was liable for his negligent driving. The plaintiffs alleged that a post-accident drug test showed that Duryea was under the influence of cocaine at the time of the collision.
The parties settled before trial for the defendant’s $1 million policy limit.
Citation: Smith v. S. Crane, No. 16-2009-CA-001560 (Fla., Duval Co. Cir. July 19, 2010).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Eric Ragatz and Thomas S. Edwards Jr., both of Jacksonville, Florida.