Tragic Georgia Trucking Crash That Killed Five Results in Settlement
Last year, five Georgia nursing students lost their lives in a fiery interstate trucking crash on eastbound I-16. These are the kinds of tragic incidents that the Truck Wreck Justice attorneys at Truck Wreck Justice work to prevent through litigation and advocacy.
Now, almost one year to the day of the April 22 accident, Total Transportation of Mississippi — the employer of the truck driver that hit the students — has agreed to settle multiple wrongful death lawsuits with the families of the victims.
Amber (Abbie) DeLoach, Emily Clark, Caitlyn Baggett, McKay Pittman and Morgan Bass all were between 20 and 21 years old when they lost their lives in the fatal crash last year. John Wayne Johnson, the driver of the semi that caused the wreck, plowed into the back of Clark’s vehicle, which was at the rear of a line of stopped cars. The impact pushed Clark’s car forward into the back of DeLoach’s vehicle.
Attorneys for Total Transportation declined to give information regarding dollar amounts of each settlement, but the attorney for McKay Pittman’s family told The Associated Press that their clients would receive $14 million. Attorneys later announced the total settlement was more than $70 million.
Attorney Brandon Peak, lead counsel on the case, told reporters:
“Abbie and Emily unfortunately saw the tractor-trailer barreling down on them from the rear and did everything in their power to get out of the way. They slammed on the gas and turned their vehicles to the right, but unfortunately did not have time to get completely off of the roadway prior to the collision. Abbie’s actions and quick thinking likely saved the lives of Brittany McDaniel and Megan Richards, who were passengers in her vehicle.”
Johnson, according to legal depositions, was fired by a previous employer for falling asleep at the wheel, but Total Transportation hired him even after he disclosed this information. He later admitted under oath to texting at the time of the Georgia accident. His truck was equipped with a collision warning system, but Johnson said that he never heard it.
Ultimately, no amount of money will make up for the loss of a loved one. The large sums awarded to these families will not bring their daughters back, and the senseless circumstances behind this accident make the tragic consequences even more difficult to live with. Although the settlement won’t change these facts, it will hopefully cause trucking companies and those in charge of hiring drivers to sit up and take notice.
Driver fatigue in the trucking industry is a widespread problem, and trucking companies are well aware of the deadly consequences of violating hours of service regulations; it’s time for them to prioritize safety over short-term profits, before more lives are lost.
The Truck Wreck Justice attorneys at Truck Wreck Justice have years of experience representing injured victims to hold truck drivers and trucking companies accountable for negligent practices like the ones displayed in the Georgia crash. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a large truck or bus, please contact our offices immediately at 866-580-4878 for a free consultation to learn more about your rights and legal options.
Coleman, D. (2016, April 22). Parent of nurse killed in fiery I-16 crash says big settlement only means of accountability. Savannah Morning News. Retrieved from http://m.jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2016-04-22/story/parent-nurse-killed-fiery-i-16-crash-says-big-settlement-only-means#article=6805F35F28A025EC76861F17B3F2EAB742F0
Holland, A. (2015, December 21). UPDATE: Trucker admits to texting in deadly crash that killed GSU students. WSAV. Retrieved from http://wsav.com/2015/12/21/update-trucker-admits-to-texting-in-deadly-crash-that-killed-gsu-students/