Photo credit: ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd. / Source / CC BY-SA
Automobile collision near Lake Palestine, Texas. Defendant, a high school senior, was driving his Lexus on his way to a friend’s lake house. Plaintiff, a 67 year old woman, contended that Defendant was exceeding the speed limit and was driving outside of his lane of travel. At a blind hill in the roadway, he collided with Plaintiff’s 2002 Nissan Sentra. The collision occurred in Plaintiff’s half of the roadway. The front left of Defendant’s car struck the front left of Plaintiff’s car in an offset head-collision.
Plaintiff suffered fractures, lacerations and nerve injuries to her right foot, right ankle, and right wrist, as well as a torn rotator cuff in her left shoulder. She underwent emergency surgeries in her ankle and wrist, and required subsequent surgeries on each. Plaintiff claimed $100,000 in past medical expenses, and $95,000 in future medical expenses. Plaintiff also claimed loss of earning capacity. Although retired, Plaintiff had recently begun working part-time as a telemarketer making $7.40 an hour, or $10,000 per year.
Immediately following the collision, the Defendant, who was not injured, attempted to hide a carton of beer that was in his trunk. Defendant denied that he had been drinking. There was conflicting evidence, with a volunteer fireman testifying that the Defendant smelled of beer, and the investigating police officer testifying that the Defendant did not smell of alcohol nor did he exhibit any clues consistent with alcohol consumption. No field sobriety tests were conducted and the Defendant was not charged with DWI.
A jury comprised of six men and six women awarded $671,724.22, broken down as follows:
Physical pain and mental anguish (past): $100,000
Physical pain and mental anguish (future): $100,000
Loss of earning capacity (past): $32,300
Loss of earning capacity (future): $50,000
Disfigurement (past): $25,000
Disfigurement (future): $15,000
Physical impairment (past): $100,000
Physical impairment (future): $50,000
Medical care expenses (past): $99,241.22
Medical care expenses (future): $90,000
Household expenses (past): $10,183
TOTAL AWARD: $671,724.22
The final judgment, including prejudgment interest and court costs, was $767,003.39. The case settled for $750,000 before an appeal was filed. After a 40% attorney fee, and case expenses, the client’s net recovery was approximately $415,000. The case was tried in Henderson County, Texas.
Interestingly, the client spent over a year handling her claim on her own before she hired our law firm. The highest settlement offer she received from the insurance company was $35,000. The insurance company ended up paying more than 20 times this amount by the end of the case. This case underscores the fact that a claimant who is not represented by an experienced personal injury lawyer is unlikely to get a fair settlement. After all, insurance companies are profit-driven businesses, and their goal in injury cases is to pay out as little money as possible to resolve the claim.
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