Atlanta, GA – Following three years of litigation, Tobin Injury Law has reached a $22.7 million settlement in a deadly tractor-trailer collision involving a young Atlanta mother.
At the tractor-trailer company’s request, the parties’ names are confidential. The case involved the death of a 32-year-old Atlanta-area mother and injuries to two of her passengers (her sister and best friend). The collision happened in January 2020 on a major highway south of Atlanta. Without warning, a tractor-trailer driver slammed on the brakes, causing the truck to jack-knife and swerve across three lanes of traffic. The young mother tried to avoid the collision but struck the truck and another car. She died within a few minutes of the crash, in front of her sister and best friend. The surviving passengers were rushed to two different emergency rooms, where they were treated for non-surgical injuries to their backs. Though neither woman received any additional care, both were diagnosed with trauma-induced PTSD.
From the outset, the tractor-trailer company and the truck driver denied any wrongdoing. They claimed the crash was a result of the young mother’s negligence as well as a mechanical malfunction in the tractor that they argued had caused the truck’s brakes to activate. After concluding their investigation, the Georgia State Patrol’s investigating officers sided with the tractor-trailer company and concluded that the young mother caused the accident.
Prior to hiring Tobin Injury Law, the family had interviewed two other law firms, but because the GSP accident report blamed the young mother, the other law firms declined the representation. Mr. Tobin traveled around the country tracking down eyewitnesses to the crash, including some the investigating Georgia State Patrol officers had never interviewed. Those witnesses refuted the accident report’s conclusion that the wreck was caused by the young mother. Armed with key witnesses in Minnesota, Florida and Georgia, Mr. Tobin felt confident he could challenge the GSP report that blamed his client for causing the crash and her own death.
Tobin Injury Law filed cases on behalf of the two daughters of the young mother and her passengers. Consolidating the cases was problematic: venue for the estate was in Dekalb County, but there were no ties to connect the other claims to Dekalb County. Creative strategic thinking led to the consolidation of all the cases in Dekalb County.
Further complicating the case, Freightliner, the manufacturer of the tractor, issued a nationwide recall on the same model tractor involved in the collision. Freightliner’s recall addressed a defect in a component of the tractor’s braking system that could cause the tractor to pull sharply to one side. Because of the GSP investigation and the Freightliner recall, the tractor-trailer company and its driver never budged from their position that the young mother and the defective tractor component were the causes of the crash. Depositions of the tractor-trailer company’s corporate representative, safety director, fleet operator, and the truck driver herself all yielded the same responses—it was the young mother and the truck that bore the blame.
To help address the Freightliner recall, Tobin Injury Law associated Cannella Snyder as co- counsel for its experience handling product liability cases. Together, the firms proved both that the GSP report was wrong, and that the Freightliner recall had nothing to do with the crash. Instead, it was clear that the tractor-trailer driver’s negligence caused the deadly crash. After a motions hearing where the presiding judge ordered the tractor-trailer company to produce internal documents and facing an impending trial setting, the tractor-trailer company agreed to settle the case for a total of $22,700,000.00.
“This really was one of those David versus Goliath battles. It was a long road to justice, but we were empowered with the truth. No amount of money can undo the past tragedy, but the family can now focus on the future,” said Darren Tobin.
*Tobin Injury Law is a Georgia personal injury law firm specializing in significant personal injury and wrongful death cases.*