Parents of man killed in tractor trailer collision settle case for $1,500,000
Greg Mills, a 27 year old resident of Seneca, Missouri, was killed when the automobile he was driving was hit by another motorist in a head-on collision. The crash occurred on Missouri Highway 71 in McDonald County, about 20 miles south of Joplin. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, truck driver Anthony Loveland was driving southbound on the two-lane highway for Dampier and Daughters Trucking, out of California, Missouri. California is a small town in central Missouri located near Columbia and Jefferson City. The combined weight of the tractor and trailer was 79,000 pounds. The A.W. Smith Law Firm, P.C. attorney, Aaron W. Smith, argued that Loveland was following traffic ahead of him too closely through a congested construction zone. As Loveland approached an intersection where traffic had suddenly stopped, his tractor-trailer rear-ended another motorist, pushing the vehicle into the northbound land where it collided head-on with Mill’s vehicle. Mills sustained massive head injuries and died within a matter of minutes at the scene. Mill’s parents filed a wrongful death suit against the trucking company. There were no other wrongful death beneficiaries and no economic losses. Over the next several months, the parents litigated liability. The trucking company had only $1,000,000 in liability insurance coverage. However Smith was able to make a policy limits demand in a strategically timed sequence that potentially opened up the trucking company’s liability insurance carrier’s policy limits. Under Missouri law, a liability insurer that does not settle a claim within policy limits and exposes its insured to an excess judgment is guilty of bad faith. As a result, Smith was able to ultimately settle the case for $1,500,000 only six days from trial.