$1,000,000 SETTLEMENT – TRACTOR-TRAILER BLOCKS HIGHWAY AT NIGHT CAUSING DEATH
On February 19, 2013 at 5:20a.m. decedent L. Doe, age 62 was on his way to work at the Stockton Public Works Department traveling on State Route 26 in the County of San Joaquin. The defendant truck driver was backing his tractor trailer combination from the highway into a narrow driveway next to his home. The big rig, consisting of a Kenworth tractor and a 50 foot long flatbed trailer, blocked both lanes of Highway 26, a two lane road. It was dark out and there were no street lights nearby. The tractor’s headlights were on high beam, pointing toward the oncoming vehicles, making it impossible to see the big rig completely blocking the highway. The decedent collided with the trailer, causing his death. The CHP determined that the decedent was not wearing a lap or shoulder harness and air bags were not required in his 1988 Nissan Sentra. Two other vehicles subsequently struck the trailer, but both drivers were wearing their seat belts and neither driver was seriously injured.
Plaintiff contended that the defendant truck driver blocked both highway lanes while attempting to back the big rig into a narrow driveway in the dark. The tractor’s headlights were on high beam, pointing toward incoming traffic. The decedent could not see the trailer blocking the road because the headlights on high beam were shining directly into his eyes, a violation of Vehicle code Section 24409 (a). The conspicuity tape on the side of the trailer was ineffective.
The impact caused blunt force trauma and decedent was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. His heirs included his wife and two adult children from this marriage and two adult children from a former marriage. Decedent had worked for the City of Stockton for 17 years and expected to work another 8 years. He was earning approximately $66,000 per year.