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ARTICLE ID 26963

- ALLEGED DANGEROUS ROAD CONDITION- LACK OF SAFETY BARRIER ALONG CONSTRUCTION SITE - MULTIPLE VEHICLE COLLISION - THORACIC VERTEBRA FRACTURES - PARAPLEGIA - FRONTAL LOBE BRAIN DAMAGE - WRONGFUL DEATH OF NINE- YEAR-OLD BOY.

Marion County

This action was tried against the defendant engineering company which was in charge of overseeing a construction project along Interstate 75 in Marion County. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant negligently supervised the project and failed to construct safety barriers at the site. The plaintiff’s car was struck by a tractor-trailer, left the road surface and then struck a second tractor-trailer which had left the road surface moments earlier. The male plaintiff, 33 years old at the time of the accident, suffered catastrophic injuries, and his nine-year- old son was killed. Several other defendants, including two subcontractors and the operator of the tractor-trailer which was off the road, settled the plaintiff’s claims prior to trial. The defendant engineering company maintained that the accident was caused solely by the negligence of the unidentified tractor- trailer which sideswiped the plaintiff’s car and sent it off the road.

The plaintiff contended that his automobile was sideswiped by a tractor-trailer which left the scene of the accident. His car was propelled off Interstate 75 in a construction zone. The car spun around and its back end then struck and was crushed under another tractor-trailer which, minutes earlier, had run off the interstate in the same area.

The plaintiff’s construction engineer opined that the condition of Interstate 75 through the construction zone, supervised by the defendant, comprised an inherently dangerous condition. The site should have included barrier walls along the roadside which would have prevented the accident, according to the plaintiff’s claims.

The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the initial tractor-trailer which ran off the road had gone through mud and thrown mud onto the interstate. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert opined that the mud caused the second tractor-trailer (the hit-and-run driver) to slide and thereby sideswipe the plaintiff’s car. The expert testified that the plaintiff’s car then struck the off-road tractor-trailer which had become an obstacle on the side of the road.

The plaintiff was an auto body repairman and painter at the time of the accident. His medical experts testified that the plaintiff sustained burst fractures of the T8 and T12 vertebrae and was completely paralyzed from the chest down. The plaintiff’s neuropsychologist testified that the plaintiff also sustained a closed head injury resulting in frontal lobe brain damage. The plaintiff’s neuropsychologist testified that tests indicated impaired cognitive and memory functions. The plaintiff’s nine- year-old son, who was a passenger in the car, died at the scene of injuries sustained.

The defendant maintained that the roadside conditions at the accident scene were within acceptable limits. The defendant’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the accident was caused by the negligence of the hit-and-run driver who struck the side of the plaintiff’s car and caused it to leave the road surface.

The jury found no negligence on the part of the defendant engineering company which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiffs.

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