A fatal car crash caused by a tractor trailer that had become stuck at an intersection has resulted in a $735,000 multiparty settlement for the estate of the husband and wife who were injured in the crash, the estate’s attorneys report.
Brad Banyas of Hughey Law Firm in Charleston and Larry Weston of Sumter report that Daisy and Layden Taylor were both passengers in a vehicle that crashed into a tractor trailer that had been carrying farm equipment and become stuck while negotiating a turn at a “Y”-shaped intersection in a two-lane rural road.
Banyas said that Daisy Taylor died from her injuries. Layden Taylor suffered a femur fracture in the crash and later passed away due to unrelated causes.
The estate alleged that the 2017 crash was caused in part by the driver of the truck leaving it unattended without flares, signage or strobe lights.
“There were no warnings that would alert other members of the traveling public that there was a danger up ahead,” Banyas said.
Banyas said that the tractor trailer was a “lowboy,” meaning that the trailer sat much lower to the ground compared to a standard flatbed trailer. The road had a slight rise in the grade, and there was perhaps less than eight inches of clearance underneath the trailer. The trailer got caught on that grade, causing the truck to stall out on the road.
Banyas said the car in which the Taylors were passengers might have been traveling as fast as 71 mph, based on data from the airbag module. He said that the incident took place during daylight hours and that the road had a mild curve but was relatively straight. A police investigation that was highlighted by the trucking company mentioned that a Good Samaritan may have been flagging vehicles to alert them to the situation, but the identity and presence of this person was never confirmed in depositions.
The defendants initially denied liability in the crash, but ultimately the insurer for the company that owned the truck tendered a $1 million global settlement, of which the Taylors’ estate received $700,000. The remaining $35,000 came from the South Carolina Department of Transportation, related to alleged issues with the grade in the road.
Banyas said that an earlier settlement with the insurer for the driver of the vehicle the Taylors were riding in netted another $200,000 in damages for his clients and $45,815 in property damages, bringing the total recovery to over $980,000.
Ronald B. Diegel of Murphy & Grantland in Columbia represented the driver and the trucking company. G. Murrell Smith of Smith, Robinson, Holler, DuBose & Morgan in Sumter represented the SCDOT. Neither attorney responded to requests for comment on the settlement.
SETTLEMENT REPORT – MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Injuries alleged: Death of one spouse, femur fracture and emotional distress of surviving spouse
Case name: Estate of Taylor v. PEMO Trucking; Charles Hodge; SCDOT
Venue: Clarendon County Circuit Court
Case No.: 2019-CP-14-00323
Date of settlement: March 7
Insurance carrier: Progressive (for trucking company and driver), South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund (for SCDOT)
Attorneys for plaintiff: Brad Banyas of Hughey Law Firm in Charleston and Larry Weston of Sumter
Attorneys for defendants: Ronald Diegel of Murphy & Grantland in Columbia for trucking company and driver and G. Murrell Smith of Smith, Robinson, Holler, DuBose & Morgan in Sumter for SCDOT