Contact our attorneys if you believe you have a Wrongful Death lawsuit
A Charlottesville jury has awarded what’s believed to be Virginia’s largest wrongful death award— more than $10 million— and seemed to send a message to the family of a woman who died when a cement-laden truck from Allied Concrete rolled and crushed her car three and a half years ago.
When a loved one dies unexpectedly, family members are always left in shock. Naturally, one of the most difficult things to imagine is if that person’s death is due to someone else's negligence.
Jessica Lester, 25, was driving to work with her husband, Isaiah Lester, on June 21, 2007, when they crossed paths with a mixer driven by Allied employee William Donald Sprouse, who chose a curvy, two-lane interstate over Monticello Mountain to haul 36,000 pounds of cement to a bridge rebuild in Palmyra, rather than taking Interstate 64 and U.S. 15, which would have been more suitable for the type of load being hauled.
Negligence in wrongful death cases is the result of improper attention to rules, regulations and/or safety standards. Negligent behavior creates dangerous environments, which lead to accidents that may ultimately result in death. If anyone’s negligence causes the personal injury and eventual death of a loved one, you are entitled to pursue compensation.
Testimony showed that Sprouse had a history of driving infractions. Plaintiffs allege he was driving too fast around a curve when he lost control of his truck, which toppled the Lesters’ Honda.
Knowing your legal rights
Jessica Lester was training to become a nurse coordinator for UVA neurosurgeon Greg Helm. Instead she became his patient. The neurosurgeon testified that Lester had the worst skull fracture he’d ever seen. After eight days in intensive care, Lester’s husband and parents knew that she had a slim chance of recovering.
State “wrongful death statutes” were drafted independently of each other, but all follow the same general principles. A wrongful death claim generally consists of four elements:
- The death was caused, in whole or part, by the conduct of the defendant
- The defendant was negligent or strictly responsibility for the victim’s death
- There is a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents
- Monetary damages have resulted from the victim’s death
Isaiah Lester filed suit against Allied Concrete and Sprouse, who was charged with reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter. On April 22, 2008, Sprouse pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge, and was sentenced to two years, with all but 30 days suspended. He also is forbidden from again holding a commercial driver’s license.
Punitive damages may be placed on the defendant, if death is a result of malicious, reckless, or intentional misconduct on the defendant’s part. In this case, the defendant was found guilty and will never legally operate a truck in the U.S. again.
The December 9 jury award of $10,577,000 plus interest dating from Sprouse’s 2008 criminal plea includes $2.35 million for Isaiah Lester’s own personal injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as $6.23 million as Jessica’s beneficiary. Jessica Lester’s parents, Jeanne and Gary Scott, were each awarded $1 million.
Source: The Hook (readthehook.com), Charlottesville, VA.
Weitz & Luxenberg wants to help you seek compensation
Wrongful deaths deprive you of time with our loved ones, as well as the same quality of life you upheld before your loss. That was the case when Isaiah Lester lost his wife Jessica to truck accident caused by negligent behavior.
Jessica Lester’s family got compensation for their loss, due to Mr. Sprouse’s choice to ignore common safety procedures. Wrongful death lawsuits attempt to reimburse a family for financial loss as well as loss of services and companionship. Monetary awards often also include repayment of expenses such as medical care and funeral costs.
If you have lost someone close to you as a result of wrongful death, contact us immediately for free legal consultation today. Please complete the form on this page for a free legal consultation.
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