VERDICT SEARCH REPORTS A $1,400,000 SETTLEMENT BY THE TYLER, TEXAS FIRM OF DERRYBERRY ZIPS WADE LAWHORN, PLLC IN AN 18 WHEELER CRASH

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Pictured from left to right: Tab E. Lawhorn, Daryl L. Derryberry, Guy I. Wade, III and Craig D. Zips “Keeping Your Community SAFE One Case At A Time”

On Feb. 17, 2016, plaintiff Wanda Huddleston, 79 and retired, was northbound in a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck on U.S. Highway 69 near Lindale, Texas. Handrijono Oetomo (“Oetomo”), an employee of DAT Truck Lines Inc. (DAT”), was southbound in an 18-wheeler owned or leased by HNL Truck Lines Inc (“HNL”). It was early morning and dark, and traffic was heavy. Oetomo attempted a U-turn in an open intersection, and Huddleston struck the 18-wheeler. She sustained multiple injuries and later had multiple strokes, which caused her to become mentally incapacitated. The investigating officer gave Oetomo a ticket for failing to yield the right of way.

Huddleston’s son, on her behalf, sued Oetomo, DAT and HNL for Oetomo’s actions in negligently making an unsafe U-turn, failing to yield the right of way and failing to keep a proper lookout. He also sued DAT for violating numerous policies and procedures and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations by not giving Oetomo any driver training, not disciplining him for driver log violations, not suspending him after he was given a citation, and not making a determination of whether the accident was preventable. The plaintiff sued HNL on theories of vicarious liability, alleging that Oetomo was a statutory employee of HNL.

Oetomo took no responsibility for the wreck and blamed Huddleston, in part, because women have slower reflexes.

Plaintiff’s counsel argued that Oetomo was lost and unfamiliar with the area and that he was in a rush, and that he falsified his logs. The truck’s data recorder said the truck had been operating for more than 13 hours, but Oetomo’s handwritten logs said he had been driving for only 7.25 hours.

Plaintiff’s counsel further argued that, under FMCSA regulations, because Oetomo did not understand English well enough, he should not have been driving the vehicle at all.

The defense argued that Huddleston was contributorily negligent for driving too fast, not keeping a proper lookout, not controlling her speed, and not braking or turning in time to avoid the collision. The defense accident reconstruction expert opined that Huddleston should have been able to see the truck and stop before the impact. An eyewitness who was behind Huddleston was able to stop, the defense noted.

HNL further argued that the truck was not a listed vehicle under its insurance policy and that it therefore had no insurance coverage. (Plaintiff’s counsel argued that, because the policy had a particular endorsement, known as an MCS-90 endorsement, the carrier would have to pay any eventual judgment against  Oetomo and HNL.)

Huddleston sustained a leg fracture and a subdural hematoma. She claimed that the accident caused two to three debilitating strokes, as well.

She underwent open reduction and internal fixation (“ORIF”) of the fracture, with placement of pins and screws. For the subdural hematoma, she underwent a craniotomy.

As a result of the strokes, she required 24-hour care and had to move into a nursing home. Plaintiffs’ neurology expert opined that the strokes were related to the accident.

Huddleston sought past medical bills of about $315,000, as well as $918,000 for the present value of her life-care plan. She also claimed past and future physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment and disfigurement.

The defense neurology expert opined that strokes resulted from pre-existing conditions, not from the accident.

 The case settled for a total of $1,400,000. DAT and Oetemo settled on Sept. 16, 2016, for their policy limit of $1 million, paid by their carrier. HNL settled at mediation on March 6, 2017, for $400,000, paid by HNL’s carrier. HNL’s policy limit under the MCS-90 endorsement was $750,000.

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DERRYBERRY ZIPS WADE LAWHORN, PLLC

http://www.dzwlaw.com and http://www.urhurt.com

What do I do if I am injured by a defective product?

Top 10 things to do if you are injured by a product:

by Daryl L. Derryberry, Member of Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC

Defective tires de tread frequently and can cause serious injuries or death to the occupants of the vehicle.

  1. Contact a lawyer immediately to prevent the product from being destroyed or disposed of.  An attorney can send a spoliation letter to preserve the product for inspection which is crucial to your case.   Do not sign any documents prior to consulting with an attorney. 
  2. Obtain the name of the product manufacturer and the make and model number of the product.
  3. Send all worker’s compensation forms, if any, to your lawyer before signing.
  4. Take photographs of your injuries if possible.
  5. Take photographs of the scene of the incident if possible.
  6. Do not give any written or recorded statements to any insurance company or company representative without consulting with an attorney.
  7. Immediately seek medical attention at a hospital or from a doctor if you are injured.  If you do not seek medical attention, then the insurance company and/or product manufacturer will contend that you delayed in treatment and are not injured.
  8. If you do not have health insurance, contact an attorney.   We may be able to assist you in obtaining medical care.
  9. Prepare a brief summary of the incident.   Our memories fade about the details of an accident as time passes.  This is helpful later in jogging your memory of the details of the incident.
  10. Obtain a police report if one is available.

Daryl L. Derryberry is one of the two founding partners of the firm now known as Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC (the “Firm”).  Daryl and Craig Zips started the Firm in May, 2002 and have enjoyed great success since the Firm’s inception. Daryl’s legal career spans two decades and includes successfully securing jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients in oil rig accidents, 18 wheeler wrecks, medical negligence, products liability, broker malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and other cases.

TO STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST LAW NEWS, BE SURE TO FIND US ON FACEBOOK AT https://www.facebook.com/dzwlaw AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AT https://twitter.com/DZWLAW and https://twitter.com/URHURT

DERRYBERRY ZIPS WADE LAWHORN, PLLC  http://www.dzwlaw.com and http://www.urhurt.com