When you learn something new, there is usually a learning curve involved. On highways all across Wisconsin, newly-licensed commercial drivers are doing just that and usually without incident. Unfortunately, the same wasn’t true a few years ago in another state. A wrongful death verdict has been entered against a driver and the company for which he works because of a fatal accident that took place in 2009.

Since the driver of the vehicle determined to be at fault was working for his employer at the time of the accident, liability also rests with that company’s owner. The complaint alleged that the owner was negligent in the upkeep of the vehicle. Further negligence was found in allowing an inexperienced driver without on-the-job training to operate the vehicle. According to the complaint, the driver received his commercial license one month prior to the accident. He had previously failed the written and driving tests.

A father of four and his passenger were killed when he crashed his truck into the defendant’s tractor-trailer. The defendant was found to be liable because, after missing a turn, he pulled over to stop without using flashers. Reportedly, he then pulled back onto the road at 17 mph without regard for oncoming traffic. The 36-year-old victim and the passenger suffered fatal burn injuries.

The court determined both defendants liable to pay $2.1 million in compensation to the widow of the deceased man. The award includes money for estate administration costs, lost wages and pain and suffering. In addition, the employer must pay punitive damages of $100,000.

A wrongful death lawsuit cannot undo the loss of a loved one. But relieving the burden of expenses and the uncertain financial security of the family is one step towards emotional recovery after such a tragedy.

Courthousenews.com, “Rookie Trucker Owes Millions for Fatal Crash” Rose Bouboushain, Jan. 13, 2014