Refuse Collector Awarded Faulty Vehicle Accident Compensation

A refuse lorry driver, whose spine was compressed following a crash due to the front wheel of his vehicle collapsing, has been awarded 11.4 million dollars in faulty vehicle accident compensation by a jury in California.

Raymond Mariolle (46) from Brentwood, California, drove refuse lorries for twenty years prior to his accident in 2007, when the front right hub of his lorry cracked – resulting in the wheel becoming detached and the 27 ton vehicle tumbling to the ground.

Despite being in the cab of the vehicle, Raymond suffered a crushed spine for which he has already undergone three major surgeries. Raymond also takes painkillers to help him accomplish day-to-day tasks and has been unable to return to work even in a non-driving position.

Raymond made a claim for faulty vehicle accident compensation against Volvo Trucks, the manufacturers of the vehicle, Consolidated Metro – the manufacturer of the aluminium hubs – and the company that had modified the lorry – Wittke Manufacturing – alleging that the companies were aware that the hubs did not have sufficient strength to bear the loads placed on them.

At the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Maxine Chesney and an assembled jury heard that a number of hubs had already failed throughout the country and there were an estimated 25,000 vehicles in a similar condition.

The three defendants claimed that the hubs only cracked when excessive weight was put on them by irresponsible waste management companies, but Raymond´s solicitor was able to produce emails from 2004 which demonstrated that the three defendants were aware of a problem but failed to recall the lorries or replace the hubs that had been fitted to them.

Have been told by Judge Chesney to offer a settlement but failing to do so, the three defendants were found liable for Raymond´s injury and the division of liability and award of damages was left to the jury´s discretion.

After the jury had deliberated for 10 hours, liability was divided between all three defendants with Consolidated Metro being assigned 52 percent at fault, Volvo Trucks 30 percent at fault and Wittke Manufacturing 12 percent. The remaining 6 percent was allocated to Raymond´s employer who was not named as a defendant.

The jury awarded Raymond 7.5 million dollars in general damages for the pain he had suffered with a further award of 2.4 million dollars in special damages for lost income and medical expenses. Raymond´s wife – Regina – was also awarded 1.5 million dollars in faulty vehicle accident compensation for being deprived of marital and family relations since the accident.