Trucking Company Hit With $15 Million Verdict After Driver Rear-ends Motorist
Stamford, Connecticut – A trucking company has been hit with a $15 million verdict after a jury found that its driver was negligent and operated with reckless disregard for the safety of others in a 2014 crash that left a Pennsylvania man disabled.
In one of the largest auto collision verdicts in Connecticut state history, a Stamford Superior Court jury awarded 50-year-old Jorge Amparo, and his wife Diva, a total judgement of $15 million after Amparo suffered life-altering injuries when he was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer owned by Pennsylvania-based Evans Delivery Company.
The crash occurred in the early evening of Aug. 6, 2014, along Interstate 95 on the bridge over the Saugatuck River just before Exit 17 in Westport.
According to the evidence in the case, rain was falling steadily and the roadway was slick when Amparo, who was driving a 1993 Mitsubishi Montego, stopped in the right lane for slowed traffic.
Truck driver Jose Ayala, 48, was operating a tractor-trailer in the center lane behind Amparo when he swerved and struck the rear of Amparo’s SUV.
Amparo’s case argued Ayala was negligent for failing to adequately slow for traffic which resulted in the semi rear-ending Amparo’s vehicle and pushing it into a third vehicle in front of him.
Amparo had to be extricated from the vehicle by emergency crews using the Jaws of Life.
He also suffered severe head, neck and back injuries.
An accident reconstructionist testified Ayala ”should have been going 35 miles per hour in the rainy conditions” and should have left more space between vehicles.
According to testimony, Ayala admitted to traveling at 45-50 miles per hour.
However, Ayala claimed he swerved to avoid a collision with another passenger vehicle traveling alongside him, though he did not report that to investigators at the time of the accident.
Also at issue in the case was the fact that Ayala was on his cellphone at the time of the crash.
Though Ayala denied being on the phone, records indicated Ayala was talking on the phone with his wife in the moments leading up to the crash.
However, he was talking via a hands-free bluetooth which is legal in Connecticut.
Ayala was cited at the time of the crash for driving unreasonably fast for that day’s road conditions.
Still, Ayala and the defense argued he never lost control of the vehicle and was not negligent in the crash.
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As a result of the crash, Amparo now cannot walk without the aid of a walker nor can he dress himself without someone’s assistance.
Medical records show he suffered nerve damage which has resulted in his left leg being numb, weak and in pain.
The trial lasted three weeks and involved testimony from 13 experts including eight for the plaintiff and five for the defense.
The 6-person jury deliberated for five days before returning a verdict on May 22 which found Evans Delivery Company failed to use reasonable care, and Ayala was negligent and operated the big rig with “reckless disregard” for the rights of others.
The jury awarded Amparo $302,000 to pay for his medical bills, $311,000 for past economic damages like lost wages, and $1,921,000 in future economic damages.
Additionally, the jury also awarded him $11,738,000 in non-economic damages which brought his total compensation to $14,272,000.
Further, the jury awarded Amparo’s wife, Diva, $727,500 for loss of consortium (companionship).
The defense has yet to indicate if it intends to appeal the jury’s decision.
If the verdict stands, the trucking company’s insurer, American International Group, would likely pay the millions awarded to Amparo and his wife.
According to its website, Evans Delivery Company has a fleet of over 5,000 tractors and over 240 terminals throughout the country, providing transportation services in the intermodal, flatbed, brokerage and van trucking markets.
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