The difference of a day was all it took to turn fortune into misfortune for our client – a gifted University of North Florida student. On January 17, 2005, he was full of fortune: known for his lively, loving personality and remarkable musical talents. Misfortune came to him a few minutes after midnight in a devastating roadway crash.
He was in an interstate construction zone and part of a long line of traffic ostensibly being controlled by a “rolling roadblock.” This is where advance vehicles slow traffic down to allow roadway work to be performed. On this night the construction contractor had allowed their “rolling roadblock” to stop versus roll, as evidenced by a more than four-mile traffic back up. Our client was at the end of that long chain of traffic when a semi-tractor-trailer suddenly slammed into the rear of his vehicle.
The trucker behind the wheel was a sober, well-rested, 20-year veteran with a very good driving record. He later testified that the absence of any construction delay signs, coupled with dark-of-night conditions, caused him to mistake stoplights for taillights. He said he was observing the speed limit when he realized the danger but was only able to get the rig down to 45 mph before impact. Our client’s small Toyota pickup truck was instantly demolished. He was immediately rendered a quadriplegic.
Firm Partners Jim Daniel and Howard Coker, in co-counsel with W.C. Gentry, and supported by Paralegal Michele Adkison, handled the gross negligence claim against the roadway construction company, settling with them on the path to trial.