Yesterday, a judge in New Mexico awarded almost $80 million to the family of a New Mexico woman who died when a tractor-trailer rammed her car and buried it in sand, suffocating the woman as teachers and students at a nearby school tried to save her. The judge ruled that the dangerous truck company was so brazen in its wrongdoing that the verdict needed to send a message to other potentially dangerous truck companies.
Laura Miera of Albuquerque had just dropped off her daughter at middle school and was waiting at a traffic light when the semi exited the interstate and slammed right into her. The Albuquerque Redi-Mix truck forced Meira’s to the curb, it rolled, and Miera was trapped as the semi’s open load of sand poured on top of her. Teachers, students and others on their way to the school tried to dig out the 48-year-old woman by hand.
A Dangerous Truck Company with a Dangerous Truck Driver
As reported by the Associated Press, the semi involved in the deadly crash had an expired registration, three brakes out of adjustment, while the driver had two DWI charges before he was hired by Albuquerque Redi-Mix. This blatant disregard for the FMCSA’s rules amounted to wanton disregard of public safety. I say that not only as a truck accident lawyer, but also as a member of the motoring public. The woman killed in that tragic way could have easily been me in some other setting. In handing down the significant verdict, the judge wrote that the defendants’ conduct and that of their companies continues to endanger the public and caused Miera’s “slow and painful death.” The judge awarded $60 million in punitive damages. That level of punitive damages sends a clear signal to other dangerous and negligent trucking companies: you will be penalized for gross negligence. Holding such dangerous drivers and companies accountable is what good truck accident attorneys do. I applaud the efforts of the victim’s lawyers and thank them for helping holding the driver and truck companies accountable for their terrible acts. If you witness an unsafe truck driver or would like to report an unsafe trucking company, please review our post on how to report unsafe drivers and companies. The full story by Susan Montoya Bryan was originally published by the AP: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/10/sand-buried-jury/3982477/