A Las Cruces Appeals Court panel reaffirmed a lower court's decision to award $165 million in a 2011 wrongful death case on Tuesday, Feb. 6. The settlement had been awarded to the husband and the parents of a then 22-year-old mother and the couple's then 4-year-old daughter who were struck and killed by a FedEx driver.
Witnesses to the crash reported having seen the decedent's widower driving his GMC pickup truck slowly along Interstate 10 shortly before the crash that fateful evening. Apparently, the FedEx driver either didn't see or failed to adjust her speed as she came upon the pickup just 20 miles outside of Las Cruces at the 117 mile marker.
Although the mother and the one child died instantly in the crash, her husband and their 1-year-old child, who were both riding in the vehicle at the time, suffered nonlife-threatening injuries.
The reason it took several years before the case came before an appeals judge panel is because FedEx fought tirelessly to try to request a new trial in the matter. They were hoping that a lower judgment could be awarded in this case.
Judges presiding over the matter ultimately sided with the decedent's family's assertions that FedEx was negligent. They reportedly allowed private contractors to deliver packages for them, but didn't require them to complete the same safety training that their own employees did. They said that this was particularly negligent given that contract drivers were sent out early in the morning at the most dangerous time of the day.
Of the damages awarded in the case, the bulk of the settlement that was awarded was related to the wrongful deaths of the two decedents. The mom's 1-year-old received damages for having prematurely lost his mother. The decedent's husband also received damages for emotional stress associated with him losing both his child and wife. The woman received damages for having lost her daughter as well.
A five percent interest rate was added to the award for each year that the case was caught up in litigation. Ultimately, FedEx was deemed to have shouldered at least 95 percent of the blame of the crash.
If you've lost a loved one at the hands of a negligent tractor-trailer operator, then a Los Lunas truck accidents attorney can advise you of your rights to file a wrongful death lawsuit in your case.
Source: Deming Headlight, "Appeals court upholds record $165M-plus judgment in I-10 crash," Diana Alba Soular, Feb. 11, 2018