A truck driver and his company are being sued for $100,000 after a homeless man was run over while sleeping beneath the rig.
The accident happened on January 1st, 2020 in Winchester, Virginia.
According to The Winchester Star, 56-year-old Michael Kenneth Martin, was homeless and seeking shelter when crawled beneath a semi truck parked in the Apple Valley Square Shopping Center at 820 Berryville Ave.
A short time later, truck driver Raymundo Quintanilla Romero got back into his rig without realizing Martin was underneath and ran Martin over, killing him. Now, Martin’s family, who described him as a homeless alcoholic with intellectual disabilities, is looking to sue Romero and the trucking companies he was affiliated with – Alabama-based P&S Transportation and Tennessee-based Purdy Brothers Trucking.
The suit references the FMCSA pre-trip regulations, which require a truck driver to inspect their rig prior to driving. This includes a scan of the ground beneath the rig to check for leaks and the condition of the tires.
“Quintanilla Romero failed to properly and completely perform an industry-standard pre-trip inspection prior to attempting to move defendant Purdy Brothers Trucking’s 2016 Freightliner,” said Peter A. Pentony, attorney for the Martin family.
“Quintanilla Romero had the last clear chance to avoid harming Michael Martin.”
Quintanilla Romero told police he inspected the outside of the 20-foot cab and 53-foot tractor-trailer, which were located near box trucks and a dumpster. He said he was required to file a pre-inspection report on an onboard computer before driving. He said the inspection included walking along the passenger side of the vehicle.”
During the investigation of the incident, Romero told officers that he “did not look underneath the trailer. I did not check the driver’s side of the semi-truck and trailer because it was parked too close to the other vehicles,” and planned to move the truck a short distance where he had more room before completing the inspection, but as he was doing so he heard a bump.
“The semi-truck and trailer were parked about 1 to 1½ feet apart which was very narrow to try and walk between to check. The cab of the semi-truck was just past the rear of the other vehicles so I could easily get in and out of the semi-truck.”
“My initial thought when I heard the bump was that I ran over a rock because the bump did not feel that big. When I looked back in the mirror of the truck, I saw the person laying in the parking lot. I stopped and got out of the semi-truck and saw the person laying on the ground. I then drove back around to the back of the building and parked to check on the person.”
Police say that Martin smelled of alcohol and had multiple beer cans around his body at the time of the incident. He was hospitalized with injuries to the lower part of his body but later died.
Pentony said that the case could take a year to make it to trial if a settlement is not reached, but would not comment on why the suit is seeking $100,000. Lawsuits of this kind typically seek far more in financial compensation.