Family of Pompano Beach Woman Struck by Metal Plate is Awarded $6.98 Million Florida Wrongful Death Verdict

A jury in Palm Beach, Florida has awarded the family of Pompano Beach resident Claudia Avila $6.98 Million for her wrongful death. Avila died on February 17, 2004 in Delray Breach when a 34-pound metal plate crashed into the windshield of the motor vehicle she was riding on I-94 and struck her on the head.

Avila went into a coma. She died a few weeks after the accident when doctors took her off life support.

The Palm Beach County jury found company Tarmac America 28% liable for the tragic accident. Tarmac America was the company that packaged thousands of metal plates for shipping and then loaded them onto a number of flatbed trailers for transport to Fort Lauderdale.

Avila’s children had filed a wrongful death lawsuit suing Tarmac America, Ft. Lauderdale scrap metal company IGM, and Miami truck company EM Transfer. IGM and EM Transfer settled with Avila’s family out of court.

During the trial, the plaintiffs accused Tarmac of negligence because it failed to properly secure the metal plates to the wooden pallets that they were stacked on. The metal plate struck Avila after falling off the truck.

The Palm Beach found EM Transfer 72% liable. Because the truck company had already settled the case, the resulting judgment for the family is $1.7 million. The wrongful death award includes damages for loss of parental support and pain and suffering.

Road Debris
According to a 2004 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Study, 25,000 motor vehicle accidents occur every year because of road debris, with almost 100 deaths resulting.

Because of road debris, motor vehicle accidents can occur when:

• A driver loses control of the vehicle.
• Brakes suddenly to avoid debris.
• Injuries from debris crashes through the windshield.
• The driver becomes distracted.

Road Debris Can Be Fatal, CBS News, July 13, 2004

Jury awards $1.7 million to family of woman killed by metal plate on I-9, Sun-Sentinel.com, October 13, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Highway Debris, Long an Eyesore, Grows as Hazard, New York Times, May 11, 2007

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Study