Family Awarded $45 Million in Fatal Florida Truck Crash

The family of a medical student who died in a tractor-trailer crash in Pembroke Pines, Florida in 2015 was awarded $45 million in a wrongful death lawsuit verdict last week. 

After a three-week trial, jurors awarded Jennifer and Reginald Astaphan damages related to the death of their 29-year-old son, Jonathan R. Astaphan, from Dominica.

Ranger Construction Industries, based in Palm Beach, Florida, was ordered to pay $35 million in damages. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Juan Calero, was ordered to pay $10 million.

Astaphan died on May 28, 2015 on I-75 near Pines Boulevard when he slammed into a flatbed tractor-trailer that was hauling concrete barriers out of a construction zone. The trailer had blocked all of the highway’s lanes. The impact with the trailer caused Astaphan’s Mitsubishi Lancer to be propelled 1/4 of a mile down the interstate. The Lancer’s roof was torn off; the driver died at the scene. His passenger, a 25-year-old female, survived with non-life-threatening injuries.

A 17-year-old driver also hit the back of the flatbed trailer. The young woman died instantly when concrete barriers fell onto her BMW.

The wrongful death attorney representing the Astaphan family stated in court that the construction company failed to safely guide trucks out of construction zones into traffic, which led to the fatal crash. The jurors in the wrongful death lawsuit found that the negligence of the truck driver led to Astaphan’s death.

Ranger Construction’s attorney argued that the truck driver was a subcontractor for another company and that it was not liable for the man’s death. Calero also is facing charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving causing serious bodily injury in connection with the fatal truck accident.

Our View

Our Virginia truck accident attorneys are saddened that the negligence of this tractor-trailer driver in Florida led to such a horrific tragedy. According to the Federal Highway Administration, there was an estimated 96,626 work zone crashes in 2015. Every week, there are 12 work zone crashes that lead to at least one death. In Florida, there were 80 fatal accidents in work zones in 2015. 

It is the responsibility of truck drivers with a CDL to drive their rigs safely. Clearly, pulling out of a construction zone onto an interstate and blocking lanes of traffic is a gross safety violation. Sadly, this negligent action by the truck driver led to the deaths of two people. Construction zone accidents are far too common and simply paying attention to basic safety could prevent many of them. 

Our Virginia truck accident attorneys want to remind tractor-trailer drivers that they have a higher obligation to drive safely as they hold a CDL. When they drive unsafely, fatal accidents, criminal prosecution, and truck accident wrongful death lawsuits are sometimes the tragic result.