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Truck Driver Struck After Breakdown is Awarded More Than $14 Million To Recover and Regain His Livelihood

Posted on Thursday, September 8th, 2022

Orlando Valle is a Cuban immigrant who made the most of every opportunity in this country. He worked his way up from agricultural laborer to earning $130,000 per year as an owner-operator truck driver. A thriving business owner with a proud safety record, Orlando was able to provide for his wife, daughter, and grandchildren, and he was living the American dream. That dream literally came to a crashing halt when his semi broke down on I-95 and he was rear-ended by another semi-truck.

It was around 5:00pm in the evening on Sunday, August 12, 2018, when Orlando’s tractor-trailer experienced an air-brake hose failure that caused his semi to come to a complete stop. This left him stranded in a travel lane of Interstate 95, just north of Jacksonville. To safeguard himself and other drivers, he placed numerous warning triangles to the rear of his trailer. He called in the breakdown to his employer, and after inspecting the mechanical issue, he went back into his truck to wait for the tow truck.

A Distracted Driver Slams into Broken Down Semi

While he was sitting in the sleeper berth, his tractor-trailer was struck from the rear by another semi-truck that was hauling cars. Orlando’s semi jackknifed and thrust him from the sleeper berth into the front compartment of his truck. He hit his head, suffering a deep gash to his scalp, extensive injuries to his neck, a concussion, and a jaw fracture, which could cause the bones in his jaw to break down over time. He was rushed to the hospital, and eventually underwent spinal surgery to fuse bones together in his neck.  He was ultimately diagnosed with serious injuries to his spine and nerves; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and a mild traumatic brain injury.

As a result of the crash and his numerous debilitating injuries, this once-proud provider was no longer able to drive a truck, and had to turn to his daughter for financial assistance.  He now suffers with serious balance issues, headaches, and neck pain. When COVID hit and his grandkids were attending school from home, the noise and mess of kids at home all day caused him extreme anxiety and irritability, and required him to ask his daughter and grandkids to move out. The loss of his ability to provide for and enjoy his family was devastating for both Orlando and everyone in his life.

Coker Law Takes the Case

Orlando brought his case to Coker Law after the driver who hit him, and the company the at-fault driver worked for, denied any responsibility, claiming Orlando was negligent in inspecting and maintaining his tractor-trailer. They blamed him for not moving his tractor-trailer off the roadway, failing to call law enforcement or a tow truck to the scene, and blocking traffic. They also pointed a finger at the trailer/chassis owner, Seaboard Marine, for being negligent in maintaining the chassis. To add insult to injury, they claimed that Orlando’s injuries caused by the crash were minor and temporary.

The legal team at Coker Law is experienced in how trucking companies will attempt to deflect responsibility by hiding behind the many layers of blame. They reassured Orlando that their highly trained team in auto and trucking crashes was prepared for this defense. The team went point-for-point on each element of the defense’s argument, and the expert witnesses called to testify provided critical details that helped the jury understand how the crash happened, who was negligent, and the extent of the debilitating injuries and devastating financial impact for Orlando.

“We build our cases knowing that the defense will attempt to distract and create confusion in an already difficult case,” said Coker Law Shareholder Stefano Portigliatti. “We did our job as experts in trucking crashes, and we are so grateful to the jury who gave our client the full justice he deserved.”

 Were You Injured In A Crash? 

If you are injured by a negligent driver, you may have a case, and should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. You may qualify to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to your injuries. To speak with a Coker Law crash attorney, or for more information, call (904) 356-6071.

Case Name: Orlando Valle v. Proficient Auto Transport, Inc., et al

Attorneys/Staff Involved in Case: Shareholders Howard Coker, Stefano Portigliatti, Daniel Iracki, Aaron Sprague, Co-counsel Ivan Izquierdo of Izquierdo & Leon Law, Paralegals Michelle DiJanni and Alexa Koslo, and Legal Assistants Mariana Reyes and Evie Jackson Thomas

Result Type: Verdict

Result Date: 05/04/2022

Total Award Amount: $14,624,000