In a recent victory for safety advocates, the family of a man killed by a tired trucker was awarded $58.5 million by a jury.
The lack of care exhibited by the trucking company was staggering: The driver was new and had received none of the training required of people driving big rigs; he had been on the job 13 hours straight; the registration of the truck he was driving had expired; the truck and its equipment was faulty, so it should not have been in service at all; and the evidence showed that the trucking company paid its drivers by the job, not by the hour (giving them incentive to hurry), and that it had received citations for safety violations at twice the rate of other companies.
Given all of this, one might not be surprised to learn that this driver recklessly pulled out in front of a married father of five. The father died on the way to the hospital.
The jury awarded the family $11.5 million in compensatory damages and $47 million in punitive damages. It also took the unusual step of admonishing the trucking company directly, saying that it hoped that its judgment "will clearly communicate that we expect a much higher standard of safety and training in the trucking industry."