STEVENS v. CCC & PRITCHETT TRUCKING
By all accounts, the weather in the early morning hours of December 3, 2002 was some of the worst Putnam County has ever seen. There was a “pea soup” fog and visibility was further obscured by the presence of thick smoke from a nearby swamp fire burning underground.
In response to these dangerous conditions, Kenneth and Cloeva Stevens were moving cautiously at a slow speed on State Road 100 when they suddenly came upon a “semi” stopped in the road ahead. Mr. Stevens managed to stop his Ford 150 pickup in time to avoid a collision. Impeded by the guardrail next to him, he pulled as far off the highway as possible. He then realized that the Pritchett trucker in front of him was cab-to-cab in conversation with another trucker. Between the trucks blocking both lanes and the guardrail, the Stevens had no choice but to sit and wait in their vehicle.
The Stevens did not see the “big rig” barreling down on them from behind and had no time or opportunity to take any evasive action. Operated by Commercial Carrier Corporation, the “semi” slammed into the couple’s vehicle, instantly crushing the truck bed, tearing into the cab on the driver’s side and pushing the Ford into the back of the Pritchett “semi” still stopped ahead of them. The “big rig” driver was traveling at a high rate of speed for the hazardous road conditions – he had just passed another car illegally across a double yellow line and was just beginning to decelerate. He was not able to stop in time to avoid the sound-shattering collision with the Stevens.
With no real understanding of what had just happened, and in shock, Cloeva could see that her husband had sustained some type of head injury. She managed to pull him out of the badly damaged cab and over the guardrail to the ground below. Both Mr. and Mrs. Stevens sustained serious and permanent injuries.
Representing the Stevens, Howard Coker and Charles Sorenson, in Co-Counsel with attorney Don Lester, recently brought the liability portion of the case to trial in front of a Putnam County jury who found the two trucking companies 90% responsible for this horrific highway accident. Charles Sorenson commented, “During trial we learned that the Commercial Carrier truck was equipped with a proximity alert system that sets off an alarm if there are objects up to 300 feet in the front or the side of the truck’s path. Manufactured by Eaton-Vorad, this new technology is a radar system, much like that used in boats and is designed to work in any type of weather or road condition. What amazes us is that that sophisticated system still did not prevent CCC’s semi from slamming into our client’s vehicle.”