Benji is a professional chef, and he is passionate about his calling. He and his wife worked hard to purchase a piece of property outside of Longview, Washington. They were making plans to build a there home for themselves and their young son.
In an instant, everything changed.
Surviving a log truck collision
On a rainy summer afternoon, Benji was driving out to inspect his property.
A logging truck driver was at a stop sign on Abernathy Creek road. He started to turn left onto State Route 4, and then stopped about several feet into the west-bound lane—right in front of Benji’s car.
As the truck started to turn and stop in front of him, Benji tried to avoid the log truck collision. But he was unable to get around the massive truck’s trailer. His vehicle slid underneath the trailer, beneath 90,000 pounds of logs.
Benji recalls feeling like there was an explosion, and seeing bright lights as his car collided with the trailer. The roof collapsed onto his head. He was pinned in his vehicle, which was crushed down to the windowsills.
He was trapped there for more than an hour and twenty minutes.
A long recovery
When first responders from Cowlitz County Fire and Rescue extricated Benji from the underside of a 90,000-lb logging truck, people on the scene were shocked that he could even move. A Washington State Patrol officer at the scene said it was “pretty unbelievable.”
While it seemed like a miracle that he was able to walk away from such a violent log truck collision, Benji still had very serious injuries. He sustained multiple jaw fractures, several broken teeth, and a neck fracture. He was covered in blood from his mouth and wounds to his face.
The hospital staff was able to stabilize Benji and stitch his facial wounds—but little could be done for most of his injuries. The pain in his jaw, teeth and neck was incredible. At best, his face and jaw were numb. He wasn’t able to eat or chew.
For a full-time professional chef, these were devastating injuries.
Eventually, Benji would have to undergo several reconstructive surgeries. He was on medical leave for more than 6 months before he was able to return to his kitchen.
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A log truck collision lawsuit
As the bills added up, Benji and his wife decided they needed to protect their legal rights against an uncertain future.
The truck driver claimed to the Washington State Police that he had stopped at the stop sign at SR 4, and looked both directions several times. He began pulling into intersection, and then stopped as he saw Benji’s car.
The truck driver was cited for failure to yield the right-of-way. Benji hadn’t done anything wrong: he had even tried to avoid the inevitable wreck.
Coluccio Law, joining with Oregon-based attorney Rob Dolton, represented Benji and his family in claims against the truck driver and his logging truck company. We were successful in making the case that the truck driver pulled onto the highway in front of Benji’s car, and we negotiated a settlement.
The final settlement amount is confidential, but we are happy to say that Benji and his family are being correctly compensated for the incredible pain in the aftermath of this nightmarish crash.
In many ways, Benji believes, he is incredibly lucky.
His head was just centimeters away from being crushed. He could have had permanent brain damage, lost an eye or suffered fatal injuries. While his road to recovery has been hard, Benji is grateful that he survived. He credits his wife and young son for helping him get through the worst of his injuries and trauma.
After nearly two years of recovery and reconstructive surgeries, Benji’s life is starting to return to normal. We are grateful for the opportunity to help Benji and his family all move forward.
Attorney Kevin Coluccio is the only Washington-based lawyer certified in “Truck Accident Law” by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. It is the first— and only—American Bar Association accreditation for Truck Accident Law in the United States.
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This post originally appeared on attorney Kevin Coluccio’s law firm website, Coluccio-Law.com