Businesses face liability for injuries and damages their employees cause while on the job, making rigorous screening practices essential. When companies neglect this vital step in the hiring process, profound and irreversible harm can result.

The Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop resolved a devastating wrongful death case involving an agricultural business that gave an employee access to a company vehicle without conducting a background check, resulting in the death of our client, a man described as a “giant of the community.”

Keep reading to learn how Matthew and team were able to settle the case on the eve of trial and ensure lasting security for the victim’s family.

The Accident

Early one summer morning, an agricultural business employee was driving to work in a company vehicle when he struck and killed a jogger. The victim was our client, a middle-aged, married father of three who owned and operated three businesses in a small town in Nebraska. He was a well-respected member of his community, known for his kindness and generosity, and beloved by all who knew him.

We filed a wrongful death claim on behalf of his widow.

The defense not only denied liability for the crash, they tried to blame our client, claiming he darted out of a ditch and in front of the driver who hit him.

Our Investigation

Matthew immediately launched an investigation into the fatal collision, which included a comprehensive review of the employee’s driving record and the employer’s hiring and screening practices for company drivers. What our investigation uncovered was both shocking and heartbreaking.

Not only did the agricultural business fail to conduct a background check on the driver who caused the crashwhich would have revealed a history of multiple moving violations over the course of a decadebut the company had no policies or procedures for vetting employees before allowing them to access a company vehicle.

Preparing for Trial

Significant time, resources, and effort were involved in preparing this case for trial. Matthew hired multiple experts, including:

  • A physician, who conducted an independent autopsy
  • An investigator, who took photos of the defendant's damaged vehicle
  • An accident reconstructionist who recreated the collision after visiting the scene multiple times and examining photos of the damaged vehicles
  • An economist, who worked with our client’s CPA to determine the death’s economic impact
  • A fleet safety expert to testify to the importance of screening employees before granting them access to company vehicles and the best practices for doing so
  • A medical illustrator, who created clear visuals of our client’s injuries

An Irreplaceable Loss

We also gathered statements from more than 50 witnesses in the community who spoke highly of our client. During trial preparation, we heard story after story of how he selflessly put others first and set an example for what it meant to be a good businessman, husband, and father.

Negotiations and Resolution

Despite the strength of our case, the defense played things close to the vest before suggesting we enter into mediation three weeks prior to trial. We proceeded to mediation, where we were able to settle the case and provide lasting security for the widow and her three children.

We Can Help You Fight for the Justice and Compensation You Deserve

If your loved one was killed in an incident caused by another person or company’s negligence, your need highly skilled wrongful death lawyers to help you understand your rights and options and navigate the complex recovery process.

Contact our Nebraska wrongful death lawyers today to request a free, no-obligation initial consultation.


Matthew (Matt) Lathrop
Experienced injury lawyer serving accident victims in Nebraska and Omaha. Expert in focus group trial prep.