Jorde Successfully Represents Family of Woman Killed in Crash with City Vehicle

Jorde Successfully Represents Family of Woman Killed in Crash with City Vehicle

Attorney Brian Jorde was able to negotiate a $20,000 payment from the state and a $280,000 payment from the City of Omaha for the family of a woman killed in a crash involving a city vehicle.

After the Rea family lost their loved one in a tragic car accident, they turned to Attorney Brian Jorde of Domina Law Group. Alicia Rea was tragically killed after colliding with a City of Omaha Vehicle. Through effective representation, Jorde was able to negotiate a $20,000 payment for the family from the State of Nebraska as well as a $280,000 payment from the City of Omaha.

Although the City of Omaha admits no wrongdoing, they did agree to the terms of the settlement, which not only included the monetary award, but an agreement to change certain policies. One of the major changes agreed to in the settlement is implementing brighter flashing lights on all city trucks.

Commenting on the case, Jorde said, “There are reasons we have road work safety policies and procedures in place. Drivers expect certain indicators to be present signaling construction.”

The fatal accident occurred nearly five years ago near West Maple Road and 124 th Street. Read the below press release for more information.

City of Omaha and State of Nebraska Settle Tragic Death Lawsuit
Settlement Includes Financial and Non-financial Terms

OMAHA, Neb. – The legal battle over the tragic death of Alicia M. Rea, age 24, in October 2010 is over. The last element of settlement, payment to Ms. Rea's family by the State of Nebraska on behalf of the Nebraska Department Roads has been satisfied. In exchange, Ms. Rea's family will voluntarily dismiss their case in the next week.

On October 20, 2010, City of Omaha road crews, under a contract with the State to perform road work and pothole repairs on State Highways, were dispatched to work on Maple St, a/k/a Highway 64, near 127 th Street in west Omaha. Just after 11am a fatal crash occurred when Alicia Rea's car collided with a stationary work vehicle stopped in the left hand lane of west bound traffic. The work vehicle was not fitted with adequate high-intensity lighting, warning signs, arrow panels, reflective cones, or safety devices necessary to effectively warn drivers.

"Driver expectancy" was a key concept in the case. Brian Jorde, Domina Law Group lawyer for the Rea family, stated, "There are reasons we have road work safety policies and procedures in place – to protect the public and the workers involved in this dangerous work. Drivers are conditioned and expect certain indicators to be present signaling construction activities are taking place. At the time of the accident there were insufficient warning devices to adequately alert drivers like Ms. Rea."

Discovery in the case included investigating Ms. Rea's vehicle's black box for crash related data, Verizon Wireless records, Research in Motion (Blackberry) records, and a deposition of Facebook in Palo Alto, California, among countless other depositions. This discovery showed Ms. Rea was not using her smart phone immediately prior to or at the time of the collision. There was no evidence of driver distraction.

Several near misses occurred the prior day and the day of the accident in the same stretch of road. Many of these witnesses came forward and provided testimony of their experiences hours and minutes before the accident. Some described the collision site as 'an accident waiting to happen.'

Mr. Rea, father of Alicia, has no words to express the loss of his daughter in the prime of her life who was the true definition of the All-American girl – always positive and motivating those around her, volunteering in her free time and giving of herself for the benefit others. At the same time, the Rea family is thankful for the witnesses who came forward and shared facts that helped resolve this case.

In Nebraska, wrongful death cases brought by parents of unmarried young adults are incredibly frustrating as our law does not specifically provide the parents with a mechanism to recover for their "pain and suffering" or general damages related to the loss of their child and focuses more on the economic relationship between parent and child.

After 4 years, the City of Omaha, State of Nebraska, and the Rea Family agreed to settle the case after a few months of negotiations. The terms of the settlement reflect the Rea's intense desire to prevent families in the future from experiencing their ultimate loss of a child. The atypical settlement terms consisted of $300,000 paid to Alicia's parents and key non-financial commitments important to the Rea Family. The City of Omaha entered into a Consent Decree and agrees:

  • To conduct annual training for all City workers involved in state highway maintenance regarding the provisions of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices ("MUTCD").
  • This annual training shall be known as:
    • Safe Drivers
    • Safe Riders
    • Safe Workers
    • The Alicia Marie Rea training program—zero accidents—zero deaths
  • That any new truck that will be used for maintenance on arterial streets with speed limits of 45mph or greater shall be equipped with high-intensity flashing lights.
  • To, at City expense, retrofit high-intensity flashing lights on any truck owned by the City that will be used in mobile operation repair activities on arterial streets with speed limits of 45mph or greater.
  • To update its repair procedures for work on arterial streets with speed limits of 45mph or greater as guided by the MUTCD.
  • To consult with the State of Nebraska Department of Roads regarding operational procedures with respect to state highway mobile operations maintenance.