Case Profile: Shelly and Kiara
Shelly was driving her 2003 Honda Pilot on U.S. Highway 71 with her 8 year-old daughter Kiara as a passenger in the back seat. Because of congestion, traffic was slowing and Shelly had come to a complete stop on the highway. Shortly thereafter, a distracted trucker crashed his tractor-trailer directly into the back of Shelly's vehicle. Witnesses indicated that while other traffic was slowing, the driver of the tractor-trailer continued to travel between 60-65 mph. One witness stated "he didn't even try to slow down." The tractor-trailer rear-ended Shelly's vehicle at full speed and her vehicle burst into flames. Shelly lost consciousness and had to be pulled from the burning vehicle by witnesses at the scene. However, the collision caused the trunk and backseat to be pushed up into the front seat, pinning Kiara's legs. The vehicle continued to burn and several firefighters arrived and bravely struggled to free Kiara before the interior became engulfed in flames. As flames rolled into what remained of the passenger compartment, fire fighters were finally able to free Kiara's shattered leg and pull her from the vehicle.
Shelly and her husband Carl filed suit against the trucking company and its driver for the personal injuries sustained by Shelly and Kiara.
A substantial financial recovery agreement was reached with the trucking company on behalf of Shelly and Kiara.
What Shelly has to say about our firm:
"I want to thank you for all of your hard work, your efficiency, your dedication and your care and kindness to our family. I am so thankful for you and your team and know that we are blessed to have you working for us. I am just amazed at how quickly this case has been resolved, and even more amazed by the amount of money we are being awarded...I am in awe."
Case Profile: Justin Coffman
Justin Coffman died after tractor-trailer crossed the median of highway K-10 in Johnson County, Kansas and struck Mr. Coffman's oncoming vehicle. Defendant truck driver claimed he reached down to retrieve a dropped cup of coffee. The case was filed in Jackson County, Missouri and venue and jurisdictional issues were appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, but ultimately upheld in favor of the surviving family. The parties also disputed whether the $250,000 Kansas cap on non-economic damages would apply. Justin was just 28 years-old at time of his death and was survived by his wife, Tara; his 2 ½ month-old son, Gabriel; his 9 year-old daughter, Brianna; and his mother, Sheryl.
Justin Coffman's surviving wife and family filed a lawsuit against the trucking company and its driver for causing Justin's death.
A substantial monetary recovery was reached with the trucking company on behalf of Mr. Coffman's family, which included payments above and beyond the limits of defendants' available insurance coverage. Justin's surviving wife granted the defendant trucking company permission to use her recovery DVD as part of defendant's management training in the hope of saving other families from this kind of tragedy.
What Tara Coffman has to say about our firm:
Tim Dollar and Tim Becker came highly recommended, and they did not disappoint us. From their first representation to us after the accident, we could tell they were true professionals and very much in command of the situation, and this gave us comfort. Throughout the process they were excellent lawyers to work with. My family and I always felt that they were very responsive to us and kept us in the loop the whole time. My being a single parent posed a challenged in arranging times for meetings with my lawyers, and so they would come out to meet me after work hours on or weekends. Everyone in the office has been friendly and helpful. I couldn't have asked for better lawyers or assistance during a really difficult time.
Case Profile: Luke Hausmann
On January 8, 2008, Luke Hausmann and his siblings, Ethan, Anna and Julia, were driving northbound on Interstate 35 in Texas, on their way home to Atchison, Kansas after a family vacation. Two back rear tires from a southbound tractor-trailer broke free, traveled across the highway and struck Luke's vehicle in the driver's windshield, pulling the roof away from the car. Luke was killed instantly. Ethan, Anna and Julia suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries. It was learned that the trucking company had been cited on numerous occasions for violations of regulations relating to equipment failure and maintenance in the two years preceding the incident.
Luke would have described himself as an ordinary 23 year-old. His family and friends knew otherwise. During his short lifetime Luke dedicated himself to the service of God and to helping those in need. Luke also had a tremendous curiosity about the world around him. Those two interests were married to each other when he began going on mission trips. The first trip took him to Russia at the age of 16. By the time he was 23 he had traveled to Cambodia and Thailand where he cared for orphaned children of AIDS victims and taught English to adults and children. Luke earned money to support his own trips to the mission field, but also financially supported those missions after he returned home. At the time of his death, Luke was finishing up on a home which he refurbished in his native town of Atchison, Kansas, hoping the proceeds from the sale would finance a planned mission trip to northern Afghanistan, a country whose people have been ravaged from decades of conflict. Luke was determined to do whatever he could to spread God's word, to ease pain and suffering, to improve people's lives, and to bring smiles to the faces of children wherever he traveled.
If you would like to learn more about Luke and his remarkable life, please feel free to visit the website http://www.hausmannrestoration.net/luke.
Luke's parents, David and Karen Hausmann, sued United Truck Lines, Inc. for causing the death of their son, Luke, and the injuries to their children Ethan, Anna and Julia.
A financial recovery was reached with the trucking company. As a condition of recovery, the trucking company promised to surrender its Department of Transportation operating authority and dissolve its business.
What David and Karen Hausmann have to say about our firm:
"After this horrific tragedy, we found strength through our faith, but it was with the help of our attorneys that we found justice for our son, Luke. Tim Dollar and Tim Becker carefully explained everything involved in bringing a lawsuit. They listened to us, respected our wishes, and answered all of our questions throughout the process. It was a comfort to know that someone was looking out for our family, giving us time to put our lives back together after such a devastating loss."
Case Profile: Virginia
Virginia was traveling westbound on I-70 in LaFayette County, Missouri, when she entered a patch of dense fog. Two tractor-trailers and four other vehicles were stopped and/or had collided in front of her vehicle. Another tractor-trailer then drove into the vehicles igniting a horrific fire which ultimately engulfed Virginia's entire vehicle.
Virginia's three children, Lisa, Harrison and Truman, brought an action against the three trucking companies and their drivers for the wrongful death of their mother.
A favorable confidential recovery agreement was reached with each of the three trucking companies on behalf of the surviving children.
What Lisa has to say about our firm:
"I very much appreciate the patience that Tim Becker and his staff had with me. I am a very inquisitive person and seemed to have questions about every step. Tim never made me feel my questions were ridiculous or unnecessary. He always answered my questions; eased my mind; and listened to my hurt and outrage. Tim is very compassionate and determined. I knew that fairness would surface because Tim was on our side! No amount of money could ever bring our mom back. However, I now know what my son's future can be taken care of and I'm happy that my mom still has a part in her grandson's education because of the caring law office of Dollar, Burns & Becker."
Case Profile: Pamela Becker and Daniel Becker
On November 21, 2006, Daniel Becker, 19, and his mother, Pamela Becker, 42, were traveling southbound on Interstate 85, near the South Carolina/Georgia state line. A tractor pulling double trailers operated by Oliver Mitchell was traveling north on Interstate 85 when he lost control of the vehicle. The longer combination vehicle traveled across the median and through the cable barrier, where it struck the Becker vehicle.
Daniel Becker was killed instantly, and Pamela was grievously injured. She was taken by Life Flight to the nearest hospital and treated for, among other things, a closed head injury, multiple facial fractures and multiple open upper extremity fractures. Pamela Becker died as a result of the injuries she received in this crash on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2006.
Jeff Becker is the surviving spouse of Pamela Becker and the father of Daniel Becker. He brought an action against the driver and the motor carrier for the wrongful deaths, including claims for negligence, negligent entrustment and negligent hiring, supervision and retention.
Both defendants raised the affirmative defense of "sudden medical incapacity" claiming the driver failed to control the commercial motor vehicle because he experienced the "sudden incapacity" of cough syncope, which caused him to "black out" and "be unable to control the tractor-trailer."
The accident investigation team determined that at the time of the collision, it had been raining, and the wiper positions in the vehicles were on. In addition to the road conditions and the fact that it was dark, it was discovered that the driver received two calls on this cell phone moments before the crash, one of them via call waiting. During that same time period, he was also on the CB radio, and was operating the truck on cruise control.
The driver told law enforcement personnel on the scene that he coughed, started choking, got light headed and passed out, but gave several differing descriptions of the cough event to health care providers and other witnesses. Plaintiff contended that the driver was distracted, was driving too fast for conditions and lost control of the vehicle.
Plaintiff withstood a Motion for Summary Judgment on the negligent entrustment and negligent hiring, retention and supervision causes of action. The defense claimed such causes of action were not allowable based on the defense's admission of the driver's employment status and the fact no alcohol was involved in any alleged negligent entrustment. Plaintiff cited evidence that the motor carrier was aware that Mitchell was having "personal problems that he can't handle and/or medical problems" that affected his driving duties. He had been having multiple logging problems that were not usual for him, and had caused a prior preventable crash eleven days before the subject crash. Plaintiff alleged the prior crash was also at a time when the driver was on the phone. Plaintiff claimed these facts established the carrier not only should have known, but did, in fact, know that Mr. Mitchell was suffering from personal problems and/or medical problems that affected his driving duties and that allowing Mr. Mitchell to use the semi-tractor trailer created an unreasonable risk of harm to others.
The case settled at mediation for $7,000,000.00. Additional terms of the recovery include the defendant motor carrier's agreement to hire an independent safety consultant to make recommendations on implementing a Driver Assessment Program for existing drivers, policies and procedures which ensure safety is part of every driver's job; and, implementing a company management statement on safety.
What Jeff Becker Has To Say About Our Firm:
I would hate to think of another family having to go through what Justin and I have, but I've learned that a crash like the one that took Pam and Daniel happen on a regular basis, and I would recommend using an attorney with years of trucking litigation experience. Justin and I found that in Jeff Burns of Dollar, Burns and Becker.
From the time I first met with Jeff, I felt he had a deep, personal concern for how Justin and I were doing, and he always treated us with great care. He conducted a thorough investigation of how the crash happened, and was fully prepared to try the case when we received the offer to settle.
Safety on our nation's highways is important to Jeff Burns and, after he determines the cause of a crash, he works to change the safety practices of the trucking company involved. Jeff Burns has forced safety management changes to many of the trucking companies and that has translated, in my opinion, to making it safer for everyone to drive on our highways.
Personal Injuries - Truck Crash
Deborah and Michael Munroe were driving westbound on U.S. Highway 50 in Lee's Summit, Missouri. A tractor trailer driven by a student driver taking his commercial driver's license examination was headed eastbound. The student driver suddenly steered the tractor trailer across the median and into the path of the Munroe's vehicle, causing a violent collision. Both Deborah and Michael were injured in the crash. Deborah's injuries were serious and life-threatening.
Deborah and Michael Munroe brought an action against the trucking company who owned the tractor-trailer and operated the driving school where the student driver received his truck driving training.
Deborah Munroe's past medical expenses were nearly $700,000. Her doctors testified that she would have to undergo numerous additional surgeries and continued medical treatment throughout her lifetime due to the injuries she sustained in the crash. Both Deborah and Michael missed work due to their injuries, and were forced to retire from their careers, Deborah because of her disability and Michael in order to care for Deborah. The recovery proceeds ensure that Deborah and Michael can satisfy past medical expenses, have the means to provide for future medical needs, and compensate them for their inability to continue their careers.
In addition to the financial recovery, the truck driving school plans to raise their standard minimum requirements that a student must meet before being permitted to take the CDL examination.
What Deborah and Michael have to say about our firm:
The day I met Jeff Burns I immediately knew that I was going to hire Dollar, Burns & Becker to represent Debbie and me. Jeff made me feel at ease from the moment we shook hands, and I had the same feeling when I met Tim Dollar. The lawyers and their staff gave Debbie and me the feeling that they really cared about us as individuals. They worked tirelessly getting our case ready for trial. As the trial date approached, I talked to Jeff nearly every day. He was often at the office until late in the evening working on our case. Debbie and I also appreciate the firm's volunteer involvement with Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH). It speaks volumes about their care and interest in the people they represent.
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