We just heard news of a 15.5 Million dollar jury verdict from a truck accident case in Connecticut.   This case arose from a terrible truck accident in East Lyme, Connecticut that left three dead, and others seriously injured.  Our office represented one of the victims.  But for the grace of god we all go.  Any one of us could have been on the road that day.  The newspapers immediately reported the verdict.  The heading was "Jury awards 15.5 Million to victims of I-95 crash" which emphasized the total jury verdict.   That was the story of the moment.  But the real story that I wish to write about is why was a trucking company, Northeast Carriers, legally permitted to drive their big-rig truck with only 2 Million dollars of insurance coverage. 

When was the last time you we on the highway with our entire family in your car?  Or when was the last time you we in a car on the highway with several adults in the car?  Have you even seen a group of adult family-breadwinners carpooling to work on the highway?  In any massive truck vs. car crash what do you think will happen to the occupents of the car?  In the truck vs car accident reported above---well, you know the result.  And now you know what the jury thought about the magnitude of the harms and losses suffered by the victims. 

The at-fault party Northeast Carriers had only 2 Million dollars in insurance coverage which is patently inadequate considering the risks posed by the task of driving big rigs on our highways.  This is cleary a problem.  We can accept the fact that we permit big rigs on our highways.  We accept this risk of death from a crash with a big rig every time we drive on our highways.  We accept this risk because it is not avoidable unless we ban big rigs altogether.  But we all know that banning big rigs is not realistic because we need them to transport goods to market to drive our economy.  So, they say.  Regardless, we accept the risk of death from a crash with a big rig with no quarel and no complaint.

But what we must not accept is the risk to the surviving families when there is not enough insurance to pay for the harms and losses caused from a massive crash with a big rig.  When a loved one or the breadwinner is killed who will provide for the family?  If the responsible party is not able to pay the fair and reasonable compensation to the surviving family who will provide for them?  In this case, the jury found that Northeast Carriers was 100% at fault.  This was never in doubt since Northeast Carriers attempt to pass blame onto the other trucking company was downright specious.  But Northeast Carriers has only 2 Million dollars in insurance coverage, and they caused 15.5 Million dollars in damages, and the deaths of three people with serious injuries to others.  If Northeast Carries does not pay the damages or cannot pay the damages then the surviving families will continue to suffer.  We cannot accept this risk because it is easily avoidable when the trucking company carries adequate insurance to pay for the harms and losss they create. 

The company Northeast Carriers and its insurance company knew the risk they posed by driving their trucks on the highway.  They knew that, if they killed several people in a truck accident, the harms and losses would amount to well over their 2 Million in insurance coveragle.  Here, it was seven times their coverage.  Did their insurance comany advise them that 2 Million as adequate?  Isn't that was insurance agents do?  Or did Northeast Carriers simply decide that they did not want to pay the additional insurance premiums to purchase adequate insurance?  Instead, they made extra profits by foregoing their adequate insurance.  Or perhaps they made the calculation that if they suffered a massive jury verdict against them, they would simple close that corporation, and do business under a new shell corporation.  What is of great concern in this case, is that Northeast Carries is owned by a parent company also in the trucking business. 

Clearly, leaving the surviving families without compensation after they suffered such a life alterting loss is not how our society should operate.  We must demand that trucking companies carry adequate insurance.  But for the grace of god we all go.  Any one of us could have been on the road that day.

If you or anyone you know has a question about a car or truck accident case in Connecticut then contact The Bartinik Law Firm, PC in Groton, Connecticut at 860 445 8521 or toll fee at 888 717 4211. 

Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut
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