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Jury awards $30 million verdict after truck plows into tractor, attorneys say

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Tractor crash

The twisted remains of a tractor struck by a semitrailer along U.S. 41 in Newton County in this file photo from 2019.

KENTLAND — A jury deliberated for about two and a half hours Wednesday morning before returning with a $30 million verdict on behalf of a Lake Village man, who was severely injured in May 2019 when his tractor was struck by a semi-truck in Newton County, attorneys for the man said.

The jury awarded $25 million to Daniel Nelson and another $5 million to his wife Diana Nelson, according to their attorneys, Todd Schafer and Tim Schafer II of Merrillville.

"We always thought that this was what this case was worth," Todd Schafer said.

He believes the size of the verdict represents that jurors also place a high value on life and health.

Daniel Nelson, 54, suffered head and brain injuries, a pelvic fracture and five broken ribs, Todd Schafer said. Yet he has since gone back to farming and mechanical work to continue on as a productive member of society.

The verdict came after seven days of trial starting Feb. 7 before Newton County Superior Court Judge Daniel Molter, Todd Schafer said.

Police said at the time of the May 16, 2019 incident that the truck plowed into the slow moving tractor along U.S. 41, throwing Daniel Nelson from the tractor. Nelson was taken to the hospital.

Police said they were notified about the crash at 7:35 a.m. that day and responded to the area north of County Road 1150 North along U.S. 41. The area in question is a quarter mile south of the Kankakee River.

The initial investigation revealed the 2017 Mack semitrailer, driven by a 35-year-old man from Orland Park, Illinois, was traveling northbound on U.S. 41 when he failed to slow down or move to the left lane to avoid a collision with the International Harvester farm tractor, police said. The tractor was also traveling northbound on the highway.

Todd Schafer said insurance will cover the verdict amount.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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