Florida jury awards trucker $3 million for career-ending crash

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 10/11/2018

A Florida trucker was awarded more than $3 million by a Hillsborough County jury after the driver filed a lawsuit against a trucking company for a crash that ended his trucking career, according to court documents.

On Oct. 2, a jury in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court in Hillsborough County, Fla., awarded former truck driver Joel Capote more than $3.3 million. Capote was awarded more than $1.2 million for past and future medical expenses, more than $63,000 in lost wages, $350,000 for loss of future earning capacity and $1.7 million for pain and suffering damages.

According to the complaint, another trucker driving for JVS Contracting was driving on SR 674 in Hillsborough County on July 20, 2016. The JVS truck collided with Capote’s Mack dump truck. As a result, Capote suffered injuries that led to him losing his CDL because of his inability to pass physical qualifications.

According to local media reports following the crash, Capote was eastbound on SR 674 when he was struck by a westbound JVS dump truck that had drifted into the opposite lane, striking a pickup towing a trailer in front of Capote’s truck before colliding with Capote and knocking his truck off the road and into an embankment. As a result of the crash, Capote suffered multiple fractures to his leg, spine and face, requiring multiple surgeries, intensive care and ongoing physical therapy.

The lawsuit accused JVS Contracting of negligently hiring the driver “in a negligent manner which caused” the crash, negligent failure to supervise the driver and negligent training or failure to properly train the driver.

In response, JVS countered by arguing that Capote was the one negligent. JVS accused Capote of operating his vehicle in a manner in which was the sole or contributing cause of the crash. Consequently, any potential award should be based on the percentage of fault. Furthermore, JVS argued that the cause of the crash was an unforeseen, intervening cause and that Capote failed to mitigate damages, some of which were pre-existing.

According to court documents, Capote worked as a trucker for a company from 2000 to 2004 before working as a subcontractor as an owner-operator through 2008. Capote left trucking in 2008 and returned in 2014 again as an owner-operator. That career ended after the July 2016 crash.

According to court records, a careless driving charge against the JVS driver was filed but eventually dismissed.



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