My client was driving his car on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth when traffic suddenly came to a stop and an 18-wheeler next to him was not able to stop in time. The truck crashed into a motorcyclist and tragically killed her. It then sideswiped our client’s car and rammed into four other vehicles, seriously injuring several drivers. The damage to our client’s car was relatively minor and he drove home.
We conducted an immediate investigation and obtained all necessary evidence. Our client had torn a ligament in his left shoulder and he had to undergo two arthroscopic procedures to repair it. Our client did not have health insurance and we arranged the medical treatment he needed and assisted him financially. We filed a lawsuit and settled his case at a mediation.
The biggest problem with the case was that the trucking company was severely under-insured, as many are. Personal injury lawyers often learn later that there is only the minimum required amount of $750,000 to cover everyone who is injured or who loses his or her life. This amount has not increased in the almost 40 years since it was first instituted. Clearly, that is not fair to the people and the families of victims who are hurt in these multiple vehicle collisions. The truck company’s insurance company chose to quickly pay the wrongful death claim so there were insufficient proceeds for the other claimants. This is another reason it is important for injured victims to act quickly to preserve their rights.
Even though my client’s car did not show the amount of property damage the other vehicles sustained, I argued at the mediation that there was a good chance that a court would award him a substantial verdict. He had been hit by a commercial vehicle and sustained a painful injury. Further, he was very likable and I knew that he would connect with the people who sat on the jury.
My client was eligible to receive damages for his economic damages including his reasonable and necessary medical bills and lost wages as well as his non-economic damages like physical pain, mental anguish, and impairment.
I also argued that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations regarding the truck driver’s speed, especially on a busy interstate as he approached a construction zone, and his apparent distracted driving bolstered our liability case. I used the company’s training materials, promises it made on its website about safety, and discovery.
The case settled for $190,000 and after medical and legal expenses and costs of litigation, my client received $71,000. If there had been a larger insurance policy or other available assets, the amount might have been larger. But going to a trial and allowing the other claimants to exhaust the policy before that time, which was certain to happen, would not have served my client’s best interests.
He was happy with the results and I was glad that he has recovered from his injury.