Chris Cotter with Roetzel & Andress, LPA obtained a verdict for his clients, a motor carrier and insurance company, in a recent trial in Stark County, Ohio. The case arose out of a head-on collision between a tractor-trailer and a sedan on a two-lane state route. The driver of the commercial vehicle observed the sedan drift left of center and weave in and out of the opposite lane. Despite evasive maneuvers by the driver of the commercial vehicle, the sedan struck the tractor-trailer in the commercial vehicle’s lane. The collision caused the motor carrier to incur costs for the repair of its tractor and trailer, clean-up of the diesel fuel that leaked from the saddle tank, and towing and storage of the tractor. The motor carrier made a claim with its property insurer, which covered some of the costs. Their combined loss totaled more than $60,000.
In the lawsuit, the motor carrier and insurer asserted property damage claims against the sedan driver, a 20 year-old steel worker. At trial, the rules of evidence prevented the motor carrier and insurer from relaying to the jury the fact that the sedan driver was insured. As a result, one of the practical hurdles in the case was the fact that the jury was being asked to award over $60,000 in favor of a motor carrier and insurance company and against a young man who earns an hourly wage at a steel mill. Also, the jury was permitted to learn that the young man sustained extensive injuries in the collision. Although the exact nature and extent of those injuries was excluded, the jury’s knowledge of his injury only increased sympathy for the young man.
Nevertheless, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the motor carrier and insurer for the full amount of their damages. One of the jurors commented afterwards that they each felt a great amount of sympathy for the young man, but understood their role as jurors to decide the case on its merits and not allow sympathy to play a role in their decision.