Can a lack of compliance lead to a wrongful death jury verdict?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2020 | Personal Injury |

If you are filing a lawsuit for the wrongful death of a loved one, the court generally requires proof that negligence caused the fatality. In the case of a truck accident, negligence can include the vehicle’s owner failing to comply with federal regulations. 

Commercial drivers share the roads with passenger cars and must abide by all federal laws governing hauled goods. If an operator fails to do so and hits another vehicle, the truck driver and his or her employer could face a legal action for any injuries or deaths. Companies hiring truck drivers must also ensure that they meet the driving safety standards set by federal regulators. 

By law, a pre-employment screening requires companies to drug test all truck operators before hiring them. If a pre-employment test does not demonstrate a drug-free individual, he or she cannot operate a commercial truck. During a trial, the court may review evidence to determine whether a truck company failed to follow federal safety regulations. 

In one such case, a Kentucky jury awarded a surviving family $32 million for the wrongful death of a hospice nurse after a dump truck operator driving under the influence hit her vehicle. As reported by the Courier-Journal, the truck driver used an illegal substance shortly before his haul. He crossed the center line before striking the woman’s car head-on. 

The jury found that his employer sent him out on the road without giving him a pre-employment drug test as required by federal law. As a result of the company’s negligence in failing to comply with the hiring law, the jury award included punitive damages in the amount of $10 million.