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Miami-Dade County, FL

This action arose from a collision between a tractor- trailer driven by the defendant truck driver and a passenger vehicle driven by the female plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant driver was speeding, negligently entered a Miami-Dade County intersection and struck her vehicle. The plaintiff additionally claimed that the truck was not properly maintained and the driver was fatigued. The defendant’s employer, Worldwide Dedicated Services, was also named as a defendant in the case. The defendants argued that the accident was caused solely by the negligence of the plaintiff who pulled into the intersection from a flashing red light, stopped in the defendant’s lane of travel and violated the truck’s right-of-way.

The defendant truck driver was in the course and scope of his employment delivering auto parts and was driving a tractor- trailer in December of ________. Evidence showed that the plaintiff was traveling north on Route ________ and exited to get onto Northwest 58th Street in Miami. At the top of the exit ramp, the plaintiff was preparing to turn left onto 58th Street. Evidence showed that the traffic light at that location becomes a blinking light at night; the plaintiff had a blinking red light and the defendant, heading east on 58th Street, had a blinking yellow light.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant truck driver was traveling at an excessive speed and struck the back of her vehicle as she attempted a left turn. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert opined that the defendant truck driver had ample time and opportunity to avoid striking the plaintiff’s vehicle.

The impact to the rear of the plaintiff’s car caused it to spin. Testimony indicated that the plaintiff was found unconscious at the scene. The plaintiff alleged that she could not remember the details of how the collision occurred due to a traumatic brain injury she sustained as a result of the collision.

The plaintiff’s sister testified that she was following the plaintiff in another vehicle. The sister testified that there were two left-turn lanes and she stopped in the right lane while the plaintiff stopped in the left lane and then proceeded into the intersection. The plaintiff’s sister conceded on cross- examination that there was no apparent reason for the plaintiff to have stopped in the travel lane in front of the oncoming tractor-trailer.

The plaintiff’s truck safety expert testified that the defendant failed to keep appropriate maintenance logs, leading this expert to conclude that the truck was not properly maintained. The plaintiff argued that the defendant employer was responsible for maintenance of the truck under a contract with the non-party truck owner.

The plaintiff’s neuropsychiatrist testified that the plaintiff’s traumatic brain injury was confirmed by neuropsychological testing. The plaintiff also complained of continuing migraine headaches and depression. She testified that she is unable to remember things and, as a single mother, she now has difficulty caring for her minor son. The plaintiff also claimed injury to the muscle of her left eye necessitating strabismus surgery. The plaintiff claimed that she has been left with permanent diplopia (double vision) which creates difficulty ambulating and performing other physical activities. The plaintiff was an artist and painter and she also claimed that her eye injury made it more difficult to paint.

The plaintiff contended that the defendant driver was fatigued at the time of the collision and failed to obtain eight hours of rest as required by federal motor carrier regulations. However, the defendant driver testified that he worked Monday through Friday and had, in fact, been off on the Sunday before the Monday accident. The defense argued that, during deposition testimony, the defendant mistakenly said he worked the day before the collision because he was erroneously told that the collision occurred on a Wednesday.

Evidence showed that the collision occurred at approximately 9:15 p.m. on a Monday, a few miles from the location where the defendant had picked up the loaded truck and he was in route to his first delivery at the time. The defense also showed that the non-party owner of the truck performed full-point inspections of the truck twice yearly and such an inspection had been performed some two months before the subject accident.

The defense claimed that the plaintiff pulled out from the blinking red light, started a left turn and then stopped in the path of the oncoming tractor-trailer. The defendant testified that he was in the right of two travel lanes and attempted to avoid the collision by honking his horn, swerving and braking the truck. The defendant contended that he could not avoid striking the back of the plaintiff’s car.

The defense called two independent witnesses, one traveling behind the plaintiff’s car intending to make a left turn and the other who made a right turn in front of the plaintiff and witnessed the accident in a rear view mirror. Both witnesses testified that the defendant driver took evasive action and attempted to avoid the impact.

The defense argued that the truck’s tire marks from the accident scene supported the defendant’s testimony and that the defendant truck driver acted bravely by swerving into the guardrail to lessen the impact to the plaintiff’s car. By swerving, the defendant’s truck could have flipped off the overpass and caused serious injury or death to the defendant driver, according to defense arguments. The defendants also claimed that, had the defendant truck driver not swerved, the plaintiff’s injuries would have been more severe.

The defendants denied that the plaintiff sustained a permanent brain injury as a result of the accident. The defendant’s neuropsychologist opined that the plaintiff’s testing did not support her claim of a brain injury, but was consistent with minor depression. The plaintiff’s medical records also showed a left eye drift prior to the date of the collision, according to evidence offered by the defense. The defendants argued that "You- Tube" videos of the plaintiff at her son’s birthday party and building a snowman contradicted her claim of physical limitations.

The jury found no negligence on the part of the defendants which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff.

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