Tractor-trailer accident results in confidential settlement after jury awards $7 million in wrongful death

The estate of a trucker who died after an semi-truck trailer accident involving another tractor-trailer driver, has settled a wrongful death case with the company that employed the trucker for an undisclosed amount after a jury awarded a $7 million verdict.

The widow and estate of Roger Reagan 42 filed the wrongful death claim claiming that Morgan Quisenberry, driving a tractor-trailer for Dunaway Timber Co., was negligent and reckless and caused the accident that killed Reagan. Quisenberry crossed the centerline and hit two other vehicles before hitting Reagan’s tractor trailer head-on.

Reagan’s truck caught fire in the accident and he suffered internal injuries, a crush injury and burns in the accident and he died of cardiac arrest.

It was proven that Quisenberry had exceeded the 11-hour maximum driving limit and that he had falsified his logbook to cover this fact up.

The estate also filed suit against Dunaway Timber alleging negligent and reckless hiring, training and supervising of Quisenberry. Quisenberry was hired without Dunaway Timber doing a background check and they entrusted the semi-trailer to him even though his driver’s license had been revoked twice for driving while intoxicated.

The estate also claimed that Dunaway Timber assigned Quisenberry a trip that could not be completed without violating federal hours-of-service regulations.

Negligent Hiring

Tort law allows that in some cases an employer can be held liable for the acts of an employee. Negligent hiring holds an employer liable because the employer provided the employee with the ability to engage in an act. In this case, Dunaway Timber allowed Quisenberry to drive one of their trucks even though he had a dubious driving record which they failed to ascertain by doing a background check.

Negligent Supervision

Negligent supervision is when an employer fails to monitor or control their employee in the course of doing their job. In this case, Dunaway Timber was also found negligent for setting up Quisenberry’s work schedule so it would be impossible for him to complete the required trip in the federally-regulated time unless he exceeded the speed limit.

High-Low Agreements

This wrongful death claim went to a jury trial and the jury made a $7 million wrongful death award finding 75% of the fault with Dunaway Timber and 25% to Quisenberry. The jury awarded $3 million to Reagan’s estate, $2 million to Reagan’s wife and $2 million to Reagan’s children.

While the jury awarded this amount, the actual settlement amount was undisclosed because prior to the trial, the parties signed what is called a “high-low agreement.” A high-low agreement is a contract which is entered upon in careful consideration by all the parties involved. It allows the parties in the case to agree upon a worst-case and a best-case scenario. In the agreement, both parties agree that the plaintiff will recover at least a specified dollar amount but the defendant will pay no more than a specified dollar amount. This insures the plaintiff will recover something and allows the defendant to cap their losses.

Citation: Citation: Reagan v. Dunaway Timber Co., No. 3:10-cv-03016 (W.D. Ark. Nov. 16, 2011).

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in trucking accidents and the family of those killed. We have more than 30 years experience representing people who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents and families with their wrongful death claims.

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