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Fatal Trucking Company Crash Case Ends in Billion Dollar Verdict

Semi truck and car

Truck accidents, when they occur, can have severe and often fatal consequences. Trucks can carry thousands of pounds of cargo in a single load, and if the truck driver or another motorist makes only one small mistake, disaster can strike in the blink of an eye. In Falls Lake National Insurance Company v. AJD Business Services Inc. et al., two trucking companies were found liable for the death of Connor Dzion. An examination of the facts in this case and the verdict handed down against the trucking companies involved will hopefully spur changes to the trucking industry.

Personal Injury Attorneys Specializing in Truck Accident Cases

Because truck accidents are so devastating, the consequences of the accidents can involve many areas of law. Depending on the other party in the accident, you might face large companies with resources and lawyers focused on denying you the compensation you deserve. When you find yourself in legal proceedings like these, it is vital to have an experienced attorney on your side. The personal injury attorneys at The Watson Firm have extensive experience with truck accidents, the proceedings involved with those accidents, and the tactics used by trucking companies to escape liability. Our attorneys will fight to protect you and your interests, and we will work hard to achieve the best outcome in your case.

Falls Lake National Insurance Company V. AJD Business Services, Inc.

On September 4, 2017, Dzion was waiting in traffic, stalled by an overturned semi-truck that had backed up traffic. Dzion was a student at the University of North Florida. On his way to the campus, he encountered traffic backed up for miles behind an overturned semi-truck, which resulted in substantial traffic delays. While he was waiting, a semi-truck driven by one of the defendants collided with his vehicle, causing it to burst into flames; Dzion was pronounced dead at the scene.

The two trucking companies and the drivers were named in the complaint as responsible for causing the traffic pile-up and the resulting fatal crash. AJD Business Services and its driver, Russel Rogatenko, were responsible for the traffic pile-up caused by Rogatenko’s vehicle overturning and obstructing traffic. The other trucking company, Kahkashan Carrier of Canada, and the truck’s driver, Yadwinder Sangha, were also named defendants. Kahkashan and Sangha were included in the suit, as Sangha was driving the truck that caused the fatal collision. Both operators were operating without commercial trucking licenses and using their cell phones during their respective accidents. At the time of the crash, Sangha, the driver of the Kahkashan truck, had been cited for multiple aggressive driving and speeding violations. Kahkashan hired Sangha without a background check, which would have reported the previous infractions. In addition, the driver did not have a commercial trucking license at the time of the accident and could not read English. Before the collision, the data recording systems on Sangha’s truck reported that the vehicle was traveling 70 miles an hour on cruise control. The recording devices also noted that Sangha did not attempt to stop until one second before the collision. In addition to operating without a commercial driver’s license while using his cell phone, Rogatenko was driving well over the legal limit of hours a driver is allowed to operate a truck each day.

The case went to trial on August 20, 2021, with testimony lasting about five days. After four hours of deliberation, the jury determined that Rogatenko and AJD were 10 percent negligent and Kahkashan and Sangha 90 percent negligent in causing the accidents leading to Dzion’s death. Kahkashan was required to pay $86,000,000 to Dzion’s parents for compensatory damages. The court ordered AJD to pay $16,000,000 in emotional distress damages and $900 million in punitive damages. The jury’s reasoning for awarding such high amounts involved the magnitude of AJD’s negligence. The jury was most concerned with the actions taken—and not taken—by the companies and their drivers that contributed to the circumstances that led to the fatal collision. The jury found it relevant Rogatenko had acted negligently by using his cell phone while driving, operating a commercial vehicle without a license, and driving a commercial vehicle over the legal limit of hours. The jury further noted that AJD was grossly negligent in hiring, employing, and allowing Rogatenko to operate a commercial vehicle with their company without a license. The attorney for Dzion’s parents suggested that this jury award should serve as a message to trucking companies operating in bad faith to “play by the rules” or suffer the consequences.

Truck Accident Attorney in Florida

The results of a truck accident can be devastating, both emotionally and legally. Due to the size, speed, and destructive capabilities of a fully loaded semi-truck, the damage they can cause is catastrophic. In these circumstances, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side to protect you and your interests. The experienced attorneys at The Watson Firm can help you navigate the aftermath of your truck accident to help you receive the compensation and outcome you deserve.

For more information or to set up a case evaluation, call us today at (850) 607-2929 or contact us online.