Posted by Gary Burger on August 16, 2019
Recently, Genavieve Fikes and I obtained a great $200,000 settlement for our client in a contested liability truck accident case. Despite strong evidence in our favor, the trucking company failed to make any settlement offer whatsoever until the day of mediation, when the case ultimately settled.
Here’s our firm truck accident page if you want lots of background info on these cases.
The defendant truck driver crossed into our client’s lane on Interstate 70, and crashed into her with his tractor-trailer.
The impact caused our client’s car to careen into the median, flip over repeatedly, and come to rest on the driver’s side, causing her serious injuries necessitating surgery.
The truck driver fled the scene of the accident while our client was suspended upside down and had to be extracted by emergency personnel forty-five minutes later.
We investigated and filed suit quickly in the case. I was removed to federal court in the Southern District of Illinois. Defendant’s often remove cases if they can – they force us to win a unanimous jury at trial instead of 9 of 12 in state court.
As a result of the accident, our client incurred over significant medical charges. She injured her head, neck, left side and left shoulder. She tried to treat conservatively with months of physical therapy, injections, and chiropractic treatment.
However, when that failed, she ultimately underwent successful shoulder surgery.
Here’s a video of Gen and our client:
The police investigated the scene of the accident and interviewed two witnesses who both stated they saw the truck driver cross into our client’s lane. In his report, the officer corroborated these statements based upon tire tracks and markings on the road.
The officer wrote that the truck driver initially blamed our client, but then “once faced with the evidence, stopped denying responsibility.” The officer issued defendant driver a traffic citation for “improper lane usage.”
Subsequently, the truck driver’s employer terminated him. We obtained the Separation Report through discovery, and the reason for termination stated, “Driver was terminated for having an at-fault accident and then falsifying the details of events.”
At first glance, this seemed like a clear liability accident. Based on the police report, witness statements, and the Separation Report, you would think that the defendant would make a settlement offer.
However, during depositions, both the truck driver and his employer’s corporate representative changed their stories and surprisingly blamed our client for the accident, saying she swerved into his lane. The corporate representative was a young safety manager who had never been deposed before.
The owner of the national truck company flew in to observe the deposition, and stared down the representative as he futilely tried to explain away the incriminating Separation Report, which he claimed was just an internal document.
In their depositions, the defendant’s witnesses lacked credibility or remorse, which we did not think would bode well for them in front of a jury. They refused to take any responsibility whatsoever, and did not offer our client a dime until mediation.
At the mediation, we reiterated that defendant was an unlikeable corporate truck driver who slammed into our client with a tractor-trailer, lied to police, and was fired for “having an at-fault accident and then falsifying the details of events.”
After a few hours of negotiating, the defendants finally made the $200,000 offer that our client and I were pleased with. Sometimes, even when all the evidence is in your favor, you still have to fight to get a reasonable offer.
Great job Genavieve!!