DeLand, FL — A motorcyclist from DeLand was killed on Wednesday (November 6, 2013) after an 18-wheeler truck pulled out in front of him on Old Daytona Road. Police identified the motorcyclist as 37-year old John Varga Jr. and identified the truck driver as Ervin Woodruff, 34.
Woodruff was driving an 18-wheeler north along Newport Avenue at about 9:35 p.m. when he came to a stop and then proceeded to turn onto Old Daytona. Not seeing Varga’s westbound motorcycle, apparently, Woodruff pulled into his path and caused a collision.
Varga’s motorcycle crashed into the left side of Woodruff’s trailer and he was killed immediately.
Police and the FHP were investigating the matter and said that a standard toxicology test would be given to Woodruff, though there’s no indication alcohol was a factor. More updates will be released later.
Scene of the Accident
The particulars of this accident are interesting because I’ve actually seen this same fact patten several times over the past few months. An 18-wheeler or semi-truck will either disregard a stop sign altogether or simply not look closely enough before pulling into traffic and causing a wreck. Now, it would be easy to think that this kind of accident is going to be simple: the truck driver is at fault and should therefore have to compensate the victim or their family for their damages. But, any attorney worth their salt will tell you that’s rarely the case. On the contrary, the trucking company will likely fight very hard to avoid accepting full liability here.
In Florida, a jury determines who is awarded damages in a lawsuit by using comparative fault; i.e., who is at fault for the accident. Even in an instance where it seems that one party is 100% at fault, the defense can argue that the victim was, in fact, speeding and therefore 10% at fault as well – just to make this easier to think about. It’s not uncommon for a trucking company to try and find reasons that the victim or some other third party contributed to the accident as well, even if it’s just a little bit. By lowering their liability (ex: 100% at fault to 80% at fault), the trucking company is able to save themselves money because the compensation is based on the percentage of fault. Example: Driver A hits Driver B and causes $100 in damage. But Driver A is only 80% at fault because Driver B was actually speeding and on the phone at the time, not paying attention. In this scenario, Driver A is only liable for $80.
The primary motivation here for the trucking company is to protect their financial interests, including their driver.
— Grossman Law Offices