$7.4 MILLION Awarded to Man Injured When Trucker Hauling Oversized Load Struck Bridge
Travis County, TX – A Texas jury awarded $7.4 million to a man who suffered spine and neck injuries in a 2017 crash involving a trucker who struck a bridge while hauling an oversized load.
The accident occurred along southbound U.S. Highway 183 on April 5, 2017, according to a complaint filed by The Carlson Law Firm on behalf of plaintiff Ronnie Claxton.
Claxton was traveling in a 2006 Toyota Tundra truck directly behind a 1997 Peterbilt tractor pulling an oversized and over-height load that was strapped to a flatbed trailer.
The trucker, Dennis Rayner, was operating for Killeen, TX-based Even Better Logistics LLC, when he deviated from the state permitted route, the complaint contends.
Rayner then attempted to drive the load under the Highway 71 East bridge and crashed into the side of the bridge at a high rate of speed.
The force of the crash caused the steel turnbuckles and chains securing the trailer’s load to rip apart.
One of the chains and steel turnbuckles crashed through the front windshield of Claxton’s truck, resulting in “severe bodily injuries that have required significant medical treatment,” according to the complaint.
Claxton says he has been left “permanently injured,” due to the negligence of Rayner and Even Better Logistics.
The complaint alleges Rayner failed to: adhere to over-weight and over-height permit restrictions; adhere to certified designated route restrictions; properly and adequately secure the over-height, over-sized load to prevent the unintended release of load-securing equipment; safely operate a vehicle; and drive at a reasonable rate of speed under existing road, road structure, and traffic conditions.
Further, Claxton asserts Even Better Logistics displayed “gross negligence” by entrusting a “reckless” and “uninsured” driver such as Rayner with the privilege of operating a commercial motor vehicle.
The complaint argues Even Better Logistics showed a “conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others” by employing Rayner.
Claxton claims he suffered injuries including, but not limited to, past and future physical pain; past and future emotional suffering; past and future mental anguish; past and future lost wages; and past and future loss of enjoyment of life.
The complaint also alleges Claxton’s economic losses total more than $1.2 million.
Even Better Logistics was carrying $1 million of liability insurance, according to court documents.
An offer of $150,000 was made to Claxton to settle the case, but was refused.
After a recent trial, a Travis County jury returned a verdict last week awarding Claxton $7,396,314, plus 2.5 years of pre-judgment interest at 5% on economic losses of $1,261,314.
Following the verdict, Carlson Law Firm attorney Todd Kelly called the outcome “Texas justice.”
“Rayner could’ve pulled over, turned around or called for a police escort to get back on route. Instead, he continued on an unsafe route where he hit a bridge. Upon impact, a tie-down ratchet, weighing 25 lbs., was thrown into the windshield of our client,” Kelly commented.
He continued, “Our client has undergone surgery and endured months of in-patient rehab as a direct result of Even Better Logistic’s negligence.”
It is not clear at this time if the defendants intend to appeal the jury’s decision.
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