Personal Injury Attorneys Discuss 10.5 Million Dollar Award to Family of Mother Buried Alive in a Collision
The jury found in favor of the husband and two autistic sons of the victim, Gail Walsh, by awarding them $1.5 million in survival damages and $9 million for wrongful death. The jury divided liability among the three defendants, apportioning 50 percent to the motorist who is alleged to have caused the dump truck, which contained thousands of pounds of sand, to swerve and strike Walsh’s vehicle.
According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the victim was driving at seven miles per hour when the collision occurred. The accident took place in January 2012, when Walsh was in her SUV at an intersection in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Ezequiel Rivera, who was driving a truck, which was transporting almost 50,000 pounds of sand, started going through the intersection. Then, Max Becker, who subsequently died from causes unrelated to the crash, is alleged to have started moving into the intersection while Rivera drove through the same intersection. As a result, Rivera swerved, thereby causing the truck’s weight to transfer, and the truck to tip over onto Walsh’s SUV.
“This was truly a tragic accident that could have been prevented by a stricter adherence on the part of the other motorists to the rules of traffic,” said prominent New Jersey personal injury attorneys Petrillo & Goldberg. “Compliance with safety standards regarding the loading of trucks may also have helped prevent the accident.”
The pretrial memorandum stated that bystanders and Rivera were “frantic” in their attempts to dig Walsh out of the sand, but it was too late. Although an autopsy was not performed, forensic pathology expert Ian Hood gave his opinion that her death was caused by compression asphyxia. The pretrial memorandum stated that she was buried alive and died an extremely painful death.
The memo contended that the mining company, Eureka Stone Quarry, incorrectly loaded the truck, thereby causing it to be unstable, and that Becker was negligent when he moved into the intersection. The memo also argued that the manufacturer, Mack Trucks, and the aftermarket modifier, J&J/Somerset Welding, were negligent in their design of the truck and failure to warn. In addition, the plaintiff contended that Rivera was negligent in failing to exert control over the truck.
With respect to the truck, Walsh observed that the company had no regulations for loading trucks, and that mine safety standards mandated that loads be even and as low as possible in order to make them more stable. The memo included a statement from a nonparty eyewitness who said that the sand had been placed in the truck about 12 inches over the top of the truck.
The jury found Becker to be 50 percent responsible, Rivera 35 percent liable and Eurake 15 percent responsible. The plaintiff settled the claims against Mack Trucks and Somerset/J&J Welding before trial.Learn more at http://www.petrilloandgoldberg.com/ Petrillo & Goldberg Law 6951 North Park Drive Pennsauken, NJ 08109 1333 Race Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 70 South Broad Street Woodbury, NJ 08096 Phone: 856-486-4343 Fax: 856:486-7979