Trucker Awarded $3 MILLION… Jury Blames Mega Carrier for Tire Changing Accident
Henry County, GA – A 58-year-old truck driver who suffered a broken back while on the job was awarded $3 million last month by a Henry County jury.
In 2015, truck driver Tony Jewell, of Pearson, GA, was injured while changing a tire on his truck.
Jewell was a contractor for Bennett Truck Transport (BTT), which is a division of Bennett International Group specializing in the transport of factory built housing and modular buildings.
According to its website, BTT boasts more than 30 terminals throughout North America, and provides deliveries to 48 states and 11 Canadian provinces.
Court documents say Jewell was leasing a “toter truck” from BTT when he suffered a broken back while changing a tire at a truck stop in Louisiana.
According to Jewell’s attorneys, he was attempting to pick up a spare tire from the bed of the truck when he fell backwards and onto the ground.
Jewell suffered a fractured vertebra which required surgery to repair.
Jewell argued that, as a result of his injuries, he will never be able to work as a truck driver again, costing him an income of in excess of $80,000 per year.
Further, Jewell asserted he repeatedly asked BTT to install a tire rack on the outside of his truck so he wouldn’t have to keep climbing into the bed to retrieve spares.
BTT’s lawyers countered by arguing that since Jewell was a contractor, it was ultimately his responsibility to install a tire rack if he felt it was necessary.
Additionally, BTT contended that Jewell assumed the risk of the work and changing tires was part of that assumed risk.
The company estimated Jewell had changed at least 50 tires without incident during his one-year tenure contracted to BTT.
BTT also argued other factors, of which Jewell should have been aware, contributed the accident.
As an example, BTT pointed to the fact the spare tire was wet from the morning dew, and Jewell should have taken more caution.
Further, the defense also pointed to a deposition in which Jewell admitted he must have used “too much force” when he picked up the tire.
In the end, it took the jury about 2 hours of deliberations to side with Jewell in finding BTT 90% negligent for Jewell’s injuries, according to a report from Law.com.
The jury apportioned Jewell negligent for the remaining 10%.
Jewell was awarded $3 million in damages.
Zachary Sprouse, Jewell’s laywer, told Law.com that the jury got it exactly right.
“He didn’t assume a risk. He didn’t really have a choice. It was his job,” Sprouse said. “I think the jury got it.”
BTT’s lawyer, Teddy Sutherland, also commented to Law.com, saying BTT was “surprised and disappointed” with the verdict.
Sutherland said BTT “promoted safety standards and a safety culture exceeding the requirements of the law.”
Sprouse also claimed that Jewell’s legal team offered to settle the case for $1.25 milllion, but the best offer BTT made was $10,000.
BTT is expected to appeal the decision.
Photo courtesy of BTT
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