Truck Accident Lawsuit Results in $23.5 Million for Spinal Cord Injury

A Kansas jury awarded $23.5 million to a man who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a truck accident. The verdict was later reduced to $15.3 million by the Judge, as the Defendant was found to be only 65% at fault in the collision.

The case involved an accident between two semi-tractor trailers that occurred on a New Mexico Highway in March 2006. The complaint alleged that the Defendant, Robyn Getchel, who was driving a truck owned by Swift Transportation, was negligent in backing her semi up from a rest stop onto the highway.

The truck accident lawsuit was filed by Terry Frederick and his wife as a result of injuries he sustained while in the sleeping berth of the other truck involved in the accident, which was a Yellow Freight Truck driven by Dennis Bottorff, who died in the crash.

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Evidence presented at trial established that Getchel tested positive for methamphetamine use following the accident and had a history of drug use. It was also disclosed that she had only been driving for six months and failed her commercial drivers license exam several times.

Although Getchel attempted to argue that her truck was rearended, an accident reconstruction expert offered by the Plaintiffs concluded that based on the angle of the trailer Getchel failed to make the turn into the rest stop and was attempting to back out onto the highway when the vehicles collided. In addition, according to testimony from two tow truck workers, she admitted after the accident that she had failed to negotiate the turn and was backing up.

The jury awarded $19.5 million to Terry Frederic and an additional $4 million to his wife, Donna Frederick under a loss of consortium claim. The verdict was reduced by the Judge to $15.3, as the jury found that Bottorff’s negligence was 35% responsible for the accident.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Bottorff’s widow against Getchel and Swift Transportation is currently scheduled for trial in the spring.

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