Edel Dumenigo and Joaquin Dumenigo, of Naples, Florida, were injured in a truck accident earlier this week. According to news reports, Warren Gordon, of Lehigh Acres, lost control of his semi-trailer as he drove southbound on Collier Road towards The Lord’s Way. As he braked to avoid a collision, Gordon lost control of the semitrailer, crossed the median, and drove into on-coming traffic. This caused three vehicles in the northbound lanes to crash into his truck.
For reasons I will explain below, I strongly suspect that Edel Dumenigo and Joaquin Dumenigo are entitled to very substantial monetary compensation for their injuries. This is a serious case and will require a very thorough analysis by a personal injury attorney to determine if they do in fact present a winning case.
Obviously, this conclusion is not final and is only a suspicion as this case is still under investigation and a much more comprehensive analysis of the evidence is needed before final conclusions can be drawn. That said, the following analysis should shed light on many of the legal issues a case like this presents.
According to news reports, Edel Dumenigo was driving a pickup truck when Gordon’s semitrailer crossed into the northbound lanes. She was unable to stop and crashed into the semi head on. Both Edel and her husband, Joaquin Dumenigo, were seriously injured. It is not clear whether either one has been released from the hospital as of today’s date.
The second vehicle to collide with Gordon’s semi-trailer was a pickup truck driven by Floyd Early Lilly. Like Edel Dumenigo, Lilly hit the semi head-on. Miraculously, he sustained only minor injuries and was not hospitalized.
The third vehicle was a Lexus driven by John Michael Rainieri. He too hit the semi head-on, and sustained minor injuries along with this passenger, John D. Ranieri.
According to news reports, Edel Dumenigo was driving in the inside lane of Collier Road, Floyd Lilly was driving in the center lane, and John Rainieri was in the outside lane. While it is not yet clear where on the semi Edel Dumenigo’s pickup made contact, news sources report that Floyd Lilly’s pickup hit the trailer’s side and John Rainieri hit the semitrailer’s cab.
Based on this order of events and the location of the victim vehicles, I think it is safe to deduce that Edel Dumenigo’s truck had the least amount of time to react because she was located in the lane closest to the southbound side of traffic. In other words, when Gordon’s semi penetrated the median and entered northbound traffic, her lane would have been the fist lane his truck intersected with.
I mention this, because a determination about the details and the step by step mechanics of this accident are needed in order to assess liability.
As I have discussed countless times on this blog, a successful injury case is comprised of three basic elements:
1) Provable Negligence 2) Provable Injury 3) Collectible/Insured Defendants
When it comes to provable negligence in this case, an attorney is looking for evidence that proves Warren Gordon was responsible for causing the accident. Based on the facts presented in the media, proof of negligence seems quite ample. At a minimum, there appear to be 5 eye witnesses to the crash as well as the presence of the semitrailer facing southbound in the northbound lanes of traffic with three vehicles crashed into it.
Proving that this accident was caused when Gordon’s semitrailer crossed the median and entered on coming traffic doesn’t seem too challenging given the known evidence.
For that reason, I strongly suspect that an attorney representing Edel Dumenigo, Joaquin Dumenigo, and the others will be able to easily establish the first element of a successful case: negligence.
The next part of building a winning case will require injury attorneys to establish the full extent of Edel Dumenigo’s and Joaquin Dumenigo’s injuries.
While the news indicates that they suffered serious injury, it will be necessary to establish the exact nature of their injuries. In truck accidents of this type, the following injuries are very common:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Broken Bones
- Partial Paralysis
- Lost Wages
- Diminished Earning Capacity
- Future Medical Expenses
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Consortium (loss of physical intimacy with one’s spouse)
- Other Economic Losses
In order to make the most successful claim possible, an injury attorney must be very experienced at dealing with medical evidence, financial losses, and the proving the full extent of a client’s injury.
In fact, identifying Edel Dumenigo and Joaquin Dumenigo’s full injuries may take some time to figure out as they recover and obtain medical treatment. For instance, it may be some time before doctors know if either one has suffered a permanent disability. Hopefully this will not be the case, but it is still to early to tell what the future holds.
This leads me to the last point: Collectible/Insured Defendants
When we analyze who is liable in this case, Warren Gordon is an obvious defendant. However, it does not stop with him.
Under Florida law, there is a concept called “respondeat superior.” This is a Latin term which refers to the vicarious liability an employer has for the negligent conduct of his/her employee, when committed int he scope of that employee’s work.
In other words, a trucking company can be held legally responsible whenone of its truck drivers cause a car accident while driving their truck.
In this case, I am sure that Warren Gordon was driving his semitrailer for a commercial trucking company of one type or another. For that reason, I suspect that the trucking company may also be held accountable for the accident and injuries.
However, liability does not stop there.
The insurance companies that insure Gordon and his employer can also be held accountable for Gordon’s negligence. However, their liability will obviously be limited by the coverage limits designated in the insurance policies.
Finally, it is important to note that there may be another party who may also be held accountable.
If you recall from reading above or from other news reports, Gordon lost control of his semitrailer as he tried to avoid a collision. While he should be held accountable for failing to follow at far enough of a distance to allow a safe stop in case of emergency, I also wonder about the collision he was trying to avoid.
Did the car (or cars) in front of him merely stop or slow down in their lanes or did they do something negligent themselves, such as drive recklessly or fail to maintain a single lane of travel?
In other words, if Gordon was responding to the negligence of another driver or drivers, those other parties may also be held accountable since they are linked to the chain of events that led to the injuries sustained by victims in this case.
However, that does not automatically mean Gordon is off the hook.
It is important to remember that ALL drivers have a duty to drive far enough behind the vehicles in front of them so that they can stop short in an emergency without causing an accident.
Again, I must emphasize that a thorough investigation is needed and final conclusions cannot be drawn at this time. It may very well be that Gordon was doing everything right and he was responding to a crazy maneuver committed by another driver, such as crossing all lanes of travel in an erratic or unpredictable fashion.
It is important to remember that even though Warren Gordon may most likely be responsible for this accident, I am sure he did not leave his house that morning planning on hurting anyone.
Even though our legal analysis may be very direct, its important to remember that everyone involved in this case is a person.
That said, the injured victims, especially Edel Dumenigo and her husband Joaquin Dumenigo, have a practical need for compensation.
Their medical bills need to get paid, their future treatment must be covered, and lost income must be accounted for… not to mention their fair right to compensation for the pain and suffering of being hurt and hospitalized.
Most importantly, I hope that the injured in this case benefit from a speedy recovery and more than anything else, get their health back. Putting all the legal mumbo-jumbo aside, we nothing is more important than one’s health.