A seven-car pileup on Interstate 16 resulted in the deaths of five Georgia Southern University nursing students on their way to the hospital for their last clinical rotations. As reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a jury awarded one woman who survived $15 million. The trucking company found responsible for the pileup settled with one other remaining survivor and four of the families that suffered losses. 

It was about 5:45 a.m. when two tractor-trailers and five cars crashed into each other through a chain reaction that began when one truck driver slammed into the back of an SUV. Reportedly, the speeding truck driver failed to brake while approaching a line of traffic that had stopped. At 70 mph, it was nearly impossible for him to stop without crashing into several cars. He pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular homicide on five counts and received a sentence that included five years of incarceration and five years of probation. 

The survivor, who is now a pediatric nurse, testified during the trial that she suffers from a traumatic brain injury. Her roommate corroborated by testifying the nurse cannot sleep alone, has nightmares and experiences anxiety. The jury’s award for $15 million includes compensatory damages. This generally includes compensation for medical bills, injuries and pain and suffering. 

To claim additional damages as punishment for the reckless actions of semi-truck drivers, plaintiffs are typically required to show that the trucking company lacked in training or background checks, according to LP Gas magazine. The resulting large jury verdicts may accomplish more than providing relief for victims and surviving family members. They may also help in preventing additional tractor-trailer fatalities and injuries caused by a trucking company’s poor hiring practices or inadequate driver training.