$4,300,000 Wrongful Death — Verdict in Fulton County case against a bar for over-serving a patron. Client was family of young woman who was killed after she was hit by multiple vehicles on Interstate 285 in Atlanta.
$2,025,000 Wrongful Death — Settlement for Family of Woman Killed in Collision with Commercial Driver. (2018)
$1,550,000 Wrongful Death — Motorcycle fatality involving failure to yield by automobile driver.
Recently our office received a call from a family seeking assistance after a devastating car wreck. The wreck involved our client’s teenage daughter (driver) and recently deceased spouse (front-seat passenger). The allegations in the police report indicated that our client’s daughter failed to yield to oncoming traffic as she entered a busy intersection. As she crossed the intersection, a commercial van collided directly into the passenger side of the vehicle. Our client’s spouse was pronounced dead at the scene.
Eye witnesses to the wreck reported that our client’s daughter was the at-fault driver and had entered the intersection in such a manner that created a sudden and unavoidable hazard. On top of this, the police report indicated that the commercial van driver had not violated any traffic regulation. To further our own investigation, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 et seq., our office made a formal Open Records Act Request to the county and all responding law enforcement and emergency personnel agencies. While we received a substantial amount of records and other information, they all seemed to indicate that our client’s daughter was at fault.
Under these circumstances, it seemed as though the only way to realize any financial recovery would be for our client to make a claim on behalf of his deceased wife against his own daughter through the family’s own liability policy despite the difficult emotional issues this would create for the family. Further, any recovery would have been minimal when compared to their emotional loss and trauma as the family’s auto insurance policy only had the statutory minimum limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per wreck.
Pursuing this theory of liability was not the desired route any of us wanted to embark upon, but, without other options, it appeared to be the only realistic avenue for obtaining any sort of financial compensation for the family. Our client, the surviving spouse and father of the alleged at-fault teenage driver, had just suffered a horrific life event and was trying to cope with his own loss while simultaneously helping his daughter cope with her loss, one that was particularly difficult given the gravity of guilt she felt in believing that she was largely responsible for the death of her mother. So, while this strategy might have produced some financial compensation for the family, it would have come at great emotional cost for both the client and his daughter.
We continued our investigation and worked to turn over every stone and gather every piece of available evidence. After digging further, it was revealed that the commercial van driver was speeding and perhaps driving while distracted. Our own investigation also showed that the speed limit was incorrectly listed in the crash reports as 55 miles per hour when the true speed limit was actually 45 miles per hour.
Significantly, an analysis of the commercial van’s black box data showed that the van was traveling at 55 to 56 miles per hour at the time of impact. Not only was the driver speeding, but this was clearly way too fast for this particular intersection. The black box data also revealed that the driver’s first attempt to brake occurred less than a fraction of a second before impact. This strongly suggested that the commercial driver was distracted and not paying attention to the road.
This evidence dramatically changed the liability equation. Our firm was able to successfully argue that a jury would find the commercial driver as being primarily at fault for this wreck and the ensuing death of our client’s wife. This provided much needed emotional relief to our client and his daughter as well as alleviate much of the painful guilt she had been carrying.
Ultimately, after much negotiation, our firm obtained a settlement for our client of over 2 million dollars. A significant portion of this was placed in a structured settlement for our client’s daughter, who was a minor, and will pay out to her in annual payments after her eighteenth birthday. While no amount of money can truly compensate our client and his daughter for the loss they continue to suffer, the resolution we facilitated was able to help bring the family emotional peace and closure while providing for many needs created by the wife and mother’s death.
Cases such as this are particularly challenging. It is this sort of case that underscores the importance of diligence and tenacity in the face of great adversity. We bring this ethic to every case and use our extensive experience to achieve the best possible resolution for every client.
$250,000 Wrongful Death of Prison Inmate — Family of prison inmate settled claim for wrongful death as a result of failure to provide medical care.
$244,000 Wrongful Death — Mother killed in auto accident. Limited insurance minimized recovery.
$101,000 Wrongful Death — Decedent died in drug overdose when homeowner did not call authorities for help during party. Settlement based on duty of homeowner to help one whom he knows is in grave danger based upon theory that homeowner supplied drugs.