Tyger River Doctrine Leads to $1.38 Million Settlement
A $1.38 million settlement was reached for a truck driver and motor carrier involved in a T-bone collision with a school bus. Attorneys representing two former school employees used the Tyger River concept to settle with the insurance company.
The plaintiff’s attorneys are Douglas E. Jennings and John J. Dodds IV of Yarborough Applegate in Charleston. The accident occurred when a Canadian truck driver became disoriented and ignored a stop sign, colliding with a school bus carrying two school district employees.
The school bus driver was mechanically extricated after being imprisoned for over an hour and transported to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. Both plaintiffs required extensive follow-up care, with medical bills totaling more than $250,000. The plaintiffs also required significant future medical treatment and presented joint lifecare plans worth more than $800,000. Their injuries required them to leave their jobs permanently.
The plaintiffs claimed the Canadian motor carrier failed to meet the fundamental conditions in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. They also claimed the truck driver and tractor-trailer should not have been permitted to travel on South Carolina highways. The Canadian motor carrier failed to maintain a driver safety training program, an accident register, previous violation records, hours-of-service logs, vehicle maintenance and inspection reports, and other federally required records.
The motor carrier claimed that its status as a Canadian company exempted it from keeping such a date. According to Jennings and Dodds, the motor carrier agreed to comply with federal standards to obtain operating authorization in the United States.
“The motor carrier failed to demonstrate any semblance of compliance with federal regulations governing its interstate trucking operations. It is frightening that we share roads in South Carolina with motor carriers like this one,” Jennings said in a written statement.
The defendants disputed the damages and liability. Two years into the litigation, on the day before the discovery deadline, the plaintiffs’ attorney served a demand on the defendants’ insurance carrier under Tyger River Pine Co. v. Maryland Cas. Co. They imply that the insurance company could be held liable for any verdict that exceeds the policy limits.
“When we send a Tyger River demand, in our eyes, it’s warranted, and it’s a helpful way to try to get the case resolved,” Dodds said. “It was just a case where our clients were very seriously injured, and we had a lot of great liability arguments, and the damages were in excess of the coverage.”
The parties agreed to settle for the maximum policy limit of 2 million Canadian dollars, equivalent to approximately $1.38 million at the time of the settlement.
Dodds stated that the plaintiffs also received $50,000 in uninsured motorist coverage and $195,011.42 in workers’ compensation in a separate settlement.
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