A settlement of compensation for a fatal accident with a lorry has been divided three ways after a hearing of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.
Gail Walsh was killed in a tragic accident when, in January 2012, a lorry driving through an intersection in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, swerved to avoid a car that was encroaching. The lorry was carrying nearly fifty thousand pounds of sand and, as it swerved, the weight shift caused the lorry to tip over – unloading the full cargo of sand on top of Gail´s SUV.
Despite the efforts of the lorry driver – Ezequiel Rivera – and a group of passers-by, Gail died from compression asphyxia before she could be reached. Following an investigation into the accident, Gail´s widowed husband and her two sons claimed compensation for a fatal accident with a lorry against Rivera, the company that he worked for – Eureka Stone Quarry – and the driver of the car that had encroached onto the intersection, Max Becker.
The claim for compensation for a fatal accident with a lorry went to the Court of Common Pleas for the assessment of damages and to determine what part in causing the accident each party had played. It was alleged that Rivera had not maintained adequate control of the vehicle, his employer had failed to load the sand in a safe manner, and that Becker (who had died since the accident) had encroached onto the intersection in violation of traffic laws.
At the hearing before Judge Mark I Bernstein, an accident reconstruction expert testified that Rivera had responded adequately to the situation in the circumstances at the time. Becker´s widow – who had been a passenger in the car – denied her former husband had encroached into the intersection and Eureka Stone Quarry contested that it had negligently loaded the lorry in violation of safety rules.
After nine days of testimony the jury awarded Gail´s family $10.5 million compensation for a fatal accident with a lorry. $9 million compensation was awarded for wrongful death, with a further $1.5 million compensation for survival damages. The jury assigned Becker 50% liability for causing the accident, Rivera 35% and Eureka Stone Quarry 15%.