A one-person trucking company has been ordered by a jury to pay $411 MILLION to a motorcyclist who was injured in a multi-vehicle accident. The jury award is thought to be the largest of its kind against a small trucking company.
Duane Washington was riding his motorcycle to his home near Tallahassee, Florida one day in July of 2018. While on I-10, he was part of what would end up being a 45-vehicle pileup. According to the incident report, the accident was caused by weather conditions and speeding vehicles. One of the speeding vehicles was a truck belonging to Top Auto Express, a one-man trucking company also based out of Florida.
In the accident, Washington veered off the road into the emergency lane where he impacted a stopped truck – a different truck than the one causing the accident – that didn’t have its lights on, flew off his bike, and landed in the road. He broke both sides of his pelvis away from his spine and suffered severe internal damage. His life-threatening injuries kept him in the hospital for six months. Washington now suffers from severe pain and can only walk with the aid of specialized crutches.
The trial took place entirely over Zoom, the digital video conferencing platform. It is believed to be the first ever trial held entirely over Zoom.
“This is a significant, historic ruling for justice.” One of Washington’s lawyers said according to tallahassee.com. “COVID demanded an unprecedented Zoom trial, but it didn’t stop the jury from hearing and understanding the evidence and returning a record verdict.”
Top Auto defended itself during the trial without the help of a lawyer.
The jury has awarded Washington $411 million. It is not clear how they expect a one-man trucking company to be able to pay that bill.