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Millions of penalties after the bridge collides with a load – canceled, but the company has already collapsed

Millions of penalties after the bridge collides with a load - canceled, but the company has already collapsed

Above: a photo of the scene

It was one of the largest fines in ground transportation in recent years. The company had to pay up to $7.4 million in damages after the highway bridge was hit. Nor is it surprising that the carrier did not escape such punishment, the business had to be closed, and its former owner and former driver struggled with costs. And suddenly a new sentence appeared, according to which it turned out that the colossal punishment was … completely unjustified.

On April 5, 2017, at the intersection of American Routes 290 and 183, a tractor truck with a low-loading semi-trailer appeared, carrying a large load of hoses in very high coils. The driver with 45 years of experience was sitting in the cabin of the truck, and due to the increased height, the appropriate permit was also issued. The latter precisely regulates the ways in which the truck can move, although, unfortunately, the driver made a mistake when choosing the exit. Instead of taking Route 183 east, head west.

At first, the driver was not aware of his mistake. When he finally noticed it about 10km away, it was under renovation and he was unable to stop the truck in the emergency lane. So he decided to go to the nearest intersection when he came across a very low bridge. The guy noticed his rising sign at the last moment, but he didn’t manage to make the entire group reach zero in time. So the load of plastic hit the vault, breaking one of the buckles used to secure the coils. He then released a metallic object behind the truck and crashed into the windshield of a Toyota pickup truck.

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The 72-year-old Toyota driver – interestingly, also a daily heavy truck driver – suffered head injuries and required hospital treatment. Unfortunately, this deprived him of work in transport, and therefore the man demanded compensation in court. He promised 750,000. dollars, recognizing that something like this would secure retirement and compensate for declining health. However, when the case was taken to court, at the beginning of 2020, he accused the carrier of a whole series of negligence, setting the compensation at the level of … 7.4 million US dollars. According to today’s exchange rate, it is equivalent to 35 million Polish zlotys!

The verdict argued that the truck driver had committed “gross negligence” by continuing to drive the wrong road for too long. On the other hand, the carrier was supposed to fail to fulfill its obligations in the form of proper training and supervision of employees. As I mentioned at the beginning, after receiving this punishment, the company had to stop operating. However, its former owner and former driver tried to save themselves from bankruptcy by filing an appeal to a higher court. However, the latter issued his punishment at the end of August of this year, canceling the entire standard sentence.

The Supreme Court agreed with the driver’s finding that there was no safe place before the scene to stop or return to the train. It was also confirmed that the truck had traveled a short distance due to a fault at the junction that the whole situation did not bear the hallmarks of “extreme negligence”. At the same time, it was also noted that the error in the intersection was not evidence of improper driver supervision and lack of training. This freed the carrier from the charges, making such a high compensation unjustified. In the end, the court decided that the whole case would have to be reconsidered, which would likely result in a lower sentence.

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