Case Highlight: Merkel & Cocke, P.A. Team Locates “Phantom Tractor-Trailer” and Secures $1.7M Settlement

Today we’d like to talk about a truck accident case we in which we were recently involved that illustrates the lengths we will go to for our clients and our pursuit of justice.

The case

Our client was driving a Chevrolet Tahoe southbound on the four-laned Highway 61 in Tunica County, Mississippi. At the same time, a 2007 Peterbilt tractor-trailer was traveling in the same direction. The 18-wheeler crossed from the left lane of traffic into the right lane of southbound traffic, running our client, along with her three children and her niece off the road. They went through a ditch and hit a tree.

Two of the children and the driver were badly injured. One child was taken by ambulance to Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare Center in Memphis, where she was diagnosed and treated for a traumatic brain injury, an injury to her eye, and a broken tooth. The brain injury was so severe that she was taken to Shepherd Center in Atlanta GA, and then sought additional treatment when she returned back to the Memphis area from Semmes Murphey.

The other child who was badly injured suffered a hematoma to her forehead, fractured ribs, and a broken sternum. She, too, was treated at LeBonheur.

The investigation

Because there was no contact between our client’s Tahoe and the truck that ran her off the road, we were working with what’s called a “phantom trailer” and did not have identification on the vehicle. We contacted 911, and on the recording, there was another tractor-trailer driver who was heading northbound (the opposite direction) on Highway 61 that reported the accident.

When we contacted the driver, luckily, he had dash camera footage that showed the entire chain of events, which matched with our client’s version. However, we still had a problem, in that we could not tell from the video who the owner of the 18-wheeler was, as it was not well-marked.

We then obtained the video from a local McDonald’s in Tunica that showed traffic headed southbound on US Highway 61. From this, we got a better idea of who the owner of the commercial truck might be, but still did not know for sure. Through even more investigation, we then looked into companies that routinely drive tractor-trailers or haul in our area and narrowed that list down. We then physically drove to those companies, looking for the tractor and trailer that we saw in the video.

One of our lawyers spotted the tractor-trailer in the parking lot of a freight hauling company in Cleveland, Mississippi, which led to us finding the phantom defendant and ultimately a settlement of $1,725,000.

We’re pleased that our work was able to bring justice to the woman and children so severely hurt in the accident.

Facts about car accidents in Mississippi

Our client is not alone in her terrifying story. In 2021, our state saw 772 fatalities and 3,562 injuries from car accidents. And, across the United States, “in 2019 there were 5,005 people killed in crashes involving large trucks. Seventy-one percent of people killed in large-truck crashes in 2019 were occupants of other vehicles.”

Truck accidents especially can cause serious or severe injuries due to the size disparity between tractor-trailers and smaller, more vulnerable passenger vehicles. These injuries include:

If you are injured in a car or truck accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s imperative you consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you secure compensation for your losses.

How our Mississippi truck and car accident attorneys work for you

The experienced Mississippi injury attorneys at Merkel & Cocke, P.A. understand how to help their clients. After you are involved in an accident, we do the following to prepare your case:

  • Investigate the accident. We will investigate the accident to gather evidence that can help prove your case. This may include interviewing witnesses, collecting photographs and videos, and obtaining copies of police reports and medical records.
  • Negotiate with insurance companies. Insurance companies will often try to lowball accident victims in an attempt to settle their claims quickly and cheaply. Our attorneys negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
  • File a lawsuit. If the insurance companies are unwilling to offer a fair settlement, we will file a lawsuit on your behalf. This can be a complex and time-consuming process, but the team at Merkel & Cocke, P.A. will be there to guide you through every step of the way.
  • Represent you in court. If your case does go to trial, we will represent you in court and fight for your rights. Our attorneys will cross-examine witnesses, present evidence, and argue on your behalf to secure you the best possible outcome.

If you were injured in a truck accident, contact the attorneys at Merkel & Cocke, P.A. to find out if you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries. Reach out today to any of our Mississippi locations for your free consultation. We proudly serve Jackson, Clarksdale, Greenville, Oxford, Tupelo, and the Gulf Coast. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule an appointment with an attorney today.