On a sunny July day in 2006, retail manager John Adorno was driving his BMW sedan in Farmington, Conn. Just 26, he and his uncle were working to open a stylish men’s shop in West Hartford, Conn.’s Blue Back Square.

Adorno had just bought a condominium in Bristol, Conn., and had plans to travel to Italy as a buyer. But suddenly, a 34-foot trash truck lumbered into the road from a shaded cross street. Adorno didn’t realize the danger until it was too late. His car slammed the truck broadside.