March 17, 2001 - $ 41.6 Million Awarded to Children of Woman Killed at Crash Site
A jury Friday awarded $ 41.6 million to the children of a woman who died from injuries suffered when she acted as a "good Samaritan" at a car accident scene.
The jury in state District Judge Dale Wainwright's court found that truck driver Charles Winkelmann acted with gross negligence when he drove over Wanda Stinson, 61, of Houston. Winkelmann is serving a 10-year prison sentence for intoxicated manslaughter for his role in the accident, said John Tavormina, Stinson's lawyer.
Stinson's family brought the suit against Rockin W Trucking, a small truck company in Humble owned by Winkelmann.
The accident happened on Bent Oak near Beltway 8 and U.S. 290 in northwest Houston Jan. 3, 1998.
Winkelmann, on probation for driving while intoxicated, drank half of a bottle of whiskey before the accident, Tavormina said.
While stopped at an intersection, Winkelmann let his tractor trailer roll back into another car.
Stinson saw a passenger from the car frantically seeking help, and stopped her car to assist her. Winkelmann tried to flee the scene, and drove over Stinson twice with his trailer, Tavormina said.
Police chased him for 20 miles before catching him. Stinson suffered massive injuries and died April 3, 1998.
David Brothers, lawyer for Rockin W, argued that Stinson put herself in harm's way by failing to get out of the truck's path even though she was telling others to do the same.
The jury found that Stinson shared no blame for what happened. Pam Stinson of Marietta, Ga., and Guy Stinson of Santa Fe will receive the court award.
"Our main concern was that they find that she was not responsible for what happened . . . ," Guy Stinson said.
Tavormina said, "I just hope it makes trucking companies take notice that we're not going to tolerate drunk drivers."
In all automobile accident cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of an automobile accident involving a drunk driver, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.