$8,900,000 Tractor Trailer Accident — Three Fatalities —Wrongful Death
Gardner Trial Attorneys is a leading plaintiffs’ law firm in metro Atlanta that advocates for families who have lost loved ones in fatal car accidents and wrongful death cases. We litigate aggressively, leave no stone unturned in seeking insurance recovery or court settlements, and represent families who have suffered great loss with compassion.
Gardner Trial Attorneys successfully represented a young woman whose family tragically died in a trucking accident on the New Jersey Turnpike, achieving an $8,900,000 recovery for our client after an extremely contentious legal battle.
We maintain our focus and professionalism while pursuing the best possible financial outcome for clients as they struggle to deal with their bereavement. We keep them informed of all progress in their case and are responsive to any questions they may have. We take care of the legal work that needs to be done and help them by being the most effective possible advocate for them, leading them through the challenging litigation and insurance recovery process to the compensation they deserve.
Our client’s family was driving back to Atlanta in late December after visiting relatives for the holidays in Connecticut. Up ahead of them on the highway, a car was attempting to make an illegal U-turn in a 65 mile-per-hour speed zone to go back in the other direction on the turnpike. Traffic slowed abruptly behind the vehicle blocking the left lane.
Our client’s vehicle slowed to a stop with the rest of traffic, but a tractor-trailer driver, not paying close enough attention, struck them from behind while still traveling at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was crushed. The 18-yr-old woman, a Georgia college student at the time, was asleep when the crash occurred. She was fortunate to suffer only minor injuries, but her mother, father, brother, and the family dog all succumbed to their injuries.
The insurance carrier for the trucking company, remarkably, denied any liability despite the fact that the truck driver had struck our client’s vehicle from behind.
The legal team for the insurance company knew that the jury could apportion blame for the accident however they saw fit and adjust damages accordingly. The key to their defense strategy was to convince the jury to place all the blame for the trucking accident on the driver of the other vehicle, who was never apprehended. Attorneys for the insurance company even called it the “phantom vehicle” in court proceedings.
There was another complicating factor that made recovery for our client challenging. Plaintiffs are not allowed to recover for the mental anguish of family members in New Jersey wrongful death cases. You can only be compensated for economic losses. The state puts a dollar amount on the financial worth of the person who has died.
We filed a second suit on the young woman’s behalf, for negligent infliction of emotional distress by the truck driver. This allowed the jury to consider the suffering she endured experiencing the simultaneous death of everyone in her family.
Opposing counsel initially offered only $500,000 to settle her claim. We took the case to trial. Because we knew the jury could easily conclude that her economic losses were not that great in the wrongful death case, we hired our own economist to evaluate her total financial losses. This expert witness placed her losses in excess of $1,000,000.
As the trial progressed, it became apparent to the insurance company’s lawyers that their legal strategy would not persuade the jury. They offered an $8,900,000 lump-sum settlement for both suits, which we accepted at the direction of our client. She received all compensatory damages from the settlement.
In a state like Georgia, where juries can compensate bereaved plaintiffs for mental anguish, we believe the case would have been worth much more. Given the circumstances limiting recovery in this case, though, Gardner Trail Attorneys was satisfied that we had obtained justice for our client.
Driving a car or a tractor-trailer is dangerous. In fact, operating a motor vehicle is statistically much more dangerous than any other form of travel. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, there were 1550 fatalities on Georgia roads in 2017 alone.
A car accident can happen before a driver has any notion that they are in danger. Because of the perils involved in driving, it is important to be safe; always allow adequate following distance and use defensive driving strategies, signal properly, and drive within the legal speed limit, never drink and drive or drive under the influence of drugs. Additionally, as of July 1, 2018, it is now illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in Georgia.
Even if you do everything you can to stay safe on the road, serious accidents and highway fatalities can still occur. When someone’s actions, whether accidental or intentional, lead to the death of another, the deceased’s loved ones may be entitled to compensation for the wrongful death. An auto accident wrongful death can occur due to the negligence or recklessness of another driver, criminal activity, or a car’s manufacturing defect.
We are very selective in the cases we accept. When you retain Gardner Trial Attorneys, you get our full attention and a long-term commitment to your welfare. We advocate for our clients by devoting all the resources of our firm to their case, maximizing financial results.