What is My Case Worth?
What is my Georgia Car Accident Case Worth?
This is, of course, one of the most common questions we get. The best way to answer the question is to break apart claims into certain categories. Remember as you read through this that you are the customer but you are also a seller. Your injury case is treated by the insurance companies as a commodity. It has a value in a very specialized market.
Atlanta car accident attorneys offer free consultations and I would suggest that you take advantage of the “free appraisal.” One strong note of caution. Crummy lawyers will promise you the moon. Be sure to ask them to list the last jury cases they tried to an actual verdict in front of a jury, including the Judge and tell them you will verify the information.
Sadly, many are liars so let them know that you will do your homework!
Some of the biggest misconceptions about case value that people have are:
- People believe that the insurance companies will pay them a tidy sum for a minor injury just to avoid litigation costs.
- People believe that the value of their case is mathematically determined to be two or three times their medical bills.
- People believe there is compensation for the hassle and annoyance factor.
Now that you know what does not affect value, let’s look at the factors that do matter.
Be sure to also watch our detailed series of videos addressing these issues:
Factor #1 The Seriousness of the Injury
This is by far the most important factor. The more serious the injury is, the more a jury will care; and the more the jury will award in damages. The insurer’s offer is always based on what a jury might ultimately do. They spend buckets of money tracking jury verdicts and tweaking their computer-based evaluations to make sure that they price their cases in such a way as to minimize cost and risk. If a jury would care about the injury, the insurer will offer more money for it.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue cases are the most common type of case that Georgia courts see. If the client treated conservatively and made a good recovery after physical therapy, then the jury will of course care, but they are not going to award a large amount of money. On the other hand, some people with soft tissue cases make a slow recovery and continue to struggle with pain issues for years. If the medical testimony is credible, then the jury can return a sizeable verdict.
However, as a general rule, if the x-rays and MRI scans do not show an injury and the diagnosis is soft tissue injuries, you should expect that the insurance company will “low-ball” you and some will not even offer the full amount of the medical bills. This is a certainty if there was not a lot of damage to the car.
Many of the lower quality insurance companies will argue that soft tissue injuries are unimportant. For example, recently the adjusters that handle claims for a certain insurer of last resort in Georgia tried to “low-ball” a client who had incurred $12,000.00 worth of medical care from an orthopedic medical doctor including injections and physical therapy that went on for three months. The insurer refused the demand for the $25,000.00 policy limits and their only argument against paying the limits was “this is only a soft tissue injury.” After that conversation, we put his case into the courts and we will take a verdict in excess of their $25,000.00 limits due to their sloppy claims handling. The point is, just because an insurance adjuster says your claim is not worth much because it is an injury to a soft tissue, does not mean he is right. You must accept the fact that to get the true value of the case, you may have to file suit and try the case.
So, “what is the value of a soft tissue injury in Georgia?” “Soft tissue” is a term that covers literally hundreds of body parts. A strain/sprain injury to the spine that was treated with an emergency room visit and moderate physical therapy lasting less than two months with a complete recovery and cost less than $3,000.00 is worth less than $10,000.00 in front of a jury. There are of course exceptions to every case. Remember that for a soft tissue case, a dominant factor in the insurance company’s evaluation is how bad the damage to the car looks. Jurors are less likely to believe that an injury occurred if there is minimal damage to the vehicle. These days, it does not take much to cause $1,000.00 in damage to a car, so the best predictor of the jury’s concern for the client is what the damage looks like. If it looks serious, then the jury will take the case seriously. Conversely, if there is very little damage to the car, a Georgia jury is going to hesitate before empathizing with the Plaintiff and the insurer will not pay much on the claim.
The adjuster will consider the amount of the damage to the car, the dollar total of the gross medical bills, the total amount of the lost wages and the nature of the injury and how long it took to recover. These are all components of the seriousness of the injury.
You must also look at your pre-crash health. Did you have these same complaints in years past? Have you been injured in other car accidents in recent years? The insurance company will have a print out of any prior insurance claims you have ever made and these include workers compensation claims. Contact our Atlanta car accident lawyers right away!
Simple whiplash cases involving sprains and strains:
- A garden variety case with emergency room care and chiropractic care where there is property damage over $2500 and the gross medical bills total $5,000-6,000. Cases like this in Dekalb, Fulton, Clayton, and Gwinnett will typically get offers in the $2-3,000 rant (on top of medical bills) in the hands of a lawyer. For cases without a lawyer, the gross number will be less, but the net to the client can be higher, because of no attorneys fees.
- The same case with medical care through an orthopedist but with physical therapy and the same billing totals would likely be worth $4-5,000 on top of the medical specials in the hands of a lawyer. The case has more value because the jury is more likely to respect a medical doctor and the kind of care a juror would receive from their own Doctor.
- Soft tissue cases that also have epidural injections or facet injections or another advanced procedure. These cases are more respected because they reflect the seriousness of the injury. You will also find higher value in cases with catastrophic damage but modest injuries. Think of it as theatre. If the audience (the jury) is going to be impressed by the damage or the care, their numbers will be higher. Because the billing from these types of medical procedures is all over the map, it is hard to generalize. With epidural injections, you will often see the medical bill totals exceeding $10,000. If there is only a $25,000 policy, odds are good that the insurer will have to pay the limits of the policy because there is a slim margin for error.
For serious injuries, it is impossible to generalize about value. One thing is certain; if the injury is serious, hire a lawyer because the insurance carrier will not pay the correct value on the claim unless they believe you are willing to file the lawsuit.
Factor #2: The Severity of the Crash
This one is pretty obvious. The more serious the damage to the cars, the more likely it is that a jury will understand how the injury could have occurred. Even with massive medical bills, some carriers will refuse to pay if the property damage looks low because arguing that the injury could not occur in a low-speed collision is such a powerful common-sense argument with the jury. I am certain there are some people that claim a crash caused their injury when it really pre-existed but I am equally sure that there are some people that are just fragile and it does not take much to push them into the realm of lifelong pain. Understand that however you come down on the issue, the insurer will not treat the claim with any respect if the property damage is low.
Factor #3: The Client’s Personality
It would seem obvious, but many clients are surprised to hear that their personality drastically affects the value of a case. The true value of a case is decided by 12 jurors sitting in judgment of the facts, and if they like you, they award more money. If they don’t like you well…. it goes the other way. I have had cases made and broken by the client’s personality. What I advise all my clients before deposition and before trial is to remember that jurors like the responsible citizen, not a whiner. The character you demonstrate in handling adversity says a great deal about who you are and jurors will take care of you if you behave like a reasonable person. Be kind, be forgiving, be the kind of neighbor the juror wants on her street. Don’t exaggerate and speak with earnestness about what you have gone through. Jurors are very good as sorting the B.S. from the truth, and they will award a verdict accordingly.
Factor #4: Venue
Venue for Georgia State and Superior and Magistrate Court cases is the County in which the case will be tried. All residents of Georgia, be they corporations or people, are entitled to be sued in their home county. There are a few notable exceptions for tractor-trailer collisions and for cases involving multiple defendants, but as a general rule, this holds true. Generally speaking, urban, lower-income jury pools tend to award higher verdicts for damages and insurance companies know this. For the Atlanta area, I would rank the most favorable counties to bring a case in as follows 1) Clayton County, 2) Dekalb County, 3) Fulton County, 4) Gwinnett County. Gwinnett is changing rapidly and is growing more generous in their verdicts. Outside of Columbus, Macon, and parts of Savannah and Glynn County, the rest of the State is fairly conservative and juries do not award decent verdicts unless the injuries are significant.
Therefore, when evaluating a case, it is important to know where the suit will eventually be brought.
Factor #5: The Amount of Liability Insurance
The hardest news that I have to deliver to some clients is the fact that our practical ability to make a dollar amount recovery for them is controlled to a large extent by the amount of insurance the defendant carries. We have handled wrongful death cases where there is only $50,000.00 in liability insurance and the defendant does not have any personal assets. While an Atlanta wrongful death case is clearly worth over a million dollars, the $50,000.00 in insurance money is sometimes the only money available. Clients will often ask, can’t you sue the person individually? Sure, but if the at-fault driver does not have cash in the bank or much equity in their home, you will not find a lawyer that will take the case on a contingency fee basis because there is no way for the lawyer to get paid. The old adage is true; you cannot get blood from a stone.
The identity of the insurance carrier also plays a role. Each insurance company has a different personality, as do the individual adjusters. Certain carriers are dirtbags and will “low-ball” you all the way until trial while a scarce few will try to get things worked out without litigation.
Real Value Examples
Client sustained a concussion and some memory loss in a collision that caused $10,000.00 in damage to her vehicle. She did not go to the doctor for over a week and did not complain about memory problems until over a month after the collision. No offer before suit and I took the case over from another lawyer. After State Farm Insurance deposed three of my clients treating physicians who all testified that she had post-concussive syndrome, we were able to get State Farm to pay the limits of their policy of $100,000.00.
The client was killed in an industrial accident and the case settled in a suit for an amount in excess of one million dollars.
Client sustained a femur fracture with open reduction internal fixation surgery after a bad head-on collision. Farm Bureau paid $250,000.00 policy limits after being presented with over $70,000.00 in medical bills from Grady hospital and plastic surgery estimates to correct some eyelid scarring.
Client sustained soft tissue injuries and treated with the emergency room and physical therapy near Elijay Georgia after a bad head-on collision. Although her medical bills only came to $3,500.00, we were able to present a lost wages claim of over $3,000.00 and ultimately settled the case with for $15,000.00 with Liberty Mutual Insurance.
The client was rear-ended in Dunwoody, Georgia and vehicle sustained only $2,300.00 in property damage. The client was diagnosed with a lumbar disc herniation 8 months later and had a microdiscectomy with just over $30,000.00 in medical bills. The Insurance Carrier denied the claim and offered only $5,000.00. We filed suit and during discovery, we proved that the surgeon would link the crash with the injury and ultimately settled the case for $115,000.00 when the client weighed the risks of the jury not relating the surgery due to a delay in reporting the radicular complaints.
Client struck in a head-on collision with her Ford Expedition totaled. She had emergency room bills of $3,400.00. Infinity insurance refused to pay more than $4,000.00 before trial. A trial verdict of $9,500.00 was obtained for the client because the client was able to explain how she had to miss out on her 20th-anniversary family reunion while laid up in a hotel bed in Florida due to the injuries.
Rear-end collision with $3,500.00 in property damage to the car. The defendant was insured with Progressive insurance. The client had a $500.00 emergency room bill and $3,000 in chiropractic bills. Progressive would only offer $3800.00 before the lawsuit. The case ultimately settled for $7,000.00.
A client in Paulding County, Georgia was in a Jeep that flipped. He sustained a traumatic injury to his wrists resulting in carpal tunnel surgery on one hand. We were able to get USAA Insurance to tender the $25,000.00 policy limits and then took another $45,000.00 from Cincinnati Insurance as the Underinsured Motorist Carrier.
Rear-End Collision caused by a driver insured with Grange insurance causing $5,000.00 in property damage. The client had $7,700.00 in medical bills and $2,100 in lost wages. The client chose to accept the last pre-suit offer for $20,000.00 despite the claim having a higher value in litigation.
Be sure to check our Georgia Settlement and Verdicts page for more examples.
Examples of Other Georgia Settlements and Verdicts
In reading this article and trying to determine case values, you must always keep in mind the fact that there are frequently subtle differences in the facts of each case that can result in large value differences. That said, there is wisdom in large sampling of cases, so here we will break down settlements and verdicts in the hopes it helps to explain why a particular injury case has a particular value range.
I will break the cases up into the category that best describes the narrative of why the jury did what they did. These cases were handled by other firms unless otherwise noted.
Conservative Venues and Light Property Damage are Fatal
Anderson v. Sneed
Plaintiff is rear-ended and claims $20,000 in medical bills from the crash but the damage to the rear of the car is light. The plaintiff’s case is further hurt by the fact that the defense lawyer is very good (Cowsert and Avery) and successfully impeaches the Plaintiff with the fact that they had prior similar pain complaints from before the crash. Low impact plus conservative county plus excuse not to like Plaintiff equals defense verdict.
Bibb County verdict for the Defense in August 2014
Plaintiff’s Venue and Foolishly Denying Liability
Many of the lower end insurance companies that write minimum limits policies like Safeway, Direct and Loya tend to be aggressive in their refusal to accept legal responsibility and this is beneficial to the Plaintiff. While a jury does not want to give a verdict to an undeserving Plaintiff, they also do not want to see a frivolous denial of responsibility.
Jordan v. Bates
Plaintiff was rear-ended and had $10,000 in medical bills and a $400 lost wages claim. The defense appears to have foolishly tried to blame the crash on the plaintiff, claiming he failed to activate his turn signal. Safeway Insurance only offered $15,000. It would appear from the large verdict that the defense strategy backfired and resulted in a $70,000 verdict (which is larger than the crummy $25,000 policy) Uh-oh for the defendant and Safeway. We did some checking and Safeway Insurance paid the whole excess verdict eventually.
Clayton County Plaintiff’s Verdict $70,000
TV Lawyers Get Low Value on Trucking Crash
Clerjust v. Osborn Trucking
Clayton County crash where a trucker changed lanes into a passenger car and pled guilty led to $13,000 in medical bills. The plaintiff’s lawyer was an attorney from one of the most well know TV lawyers and settled the case for only $22,000, which is low considering the County and the fact it was a trucking crash. I suspect the medical care was typical for a TV firm involving chiropractic care, but we don’t know for sure.
Plaintiff settled in Clayton County for $22,000
DUI Cases are Valuable Even Against an Uninsured Motorist Insurer
Bell v. Moore and State Farm Insurance
A person sitting in his parked car was struck by a very drunk driver who had swerved down several lawns and hit him. He claimed back and neck injuries with medical bills totaling $6,000 in medical expenses. The DUI driver had no insurance and so the case proceeded only against State Farm as the victim’s Uninsured Motorist insurance. Under Georgia law, you cannot recover punitive damages for the DUI against State Farm as the UM carrier. Surprisingly, the jury awarded $45,000 in damages, which is pretty high for compensatory damages, even in Dekalb County. What is even stranger is the lousy $1,000 offer by State Farm. I will check with the lawyers on this one and report back if we get more detail.
$45,000 Dekalb County Verdict July 2014
Plaintiffs With Prior Accident Claims Close in Time Don’t Do Well at Trial
Iman v. Townshend
The plaintiff sued over a July 2011 wreck and $3,500 in chiropractic care. The problem is she had a prior crash in January 2011 with similar medical care and a claim. Compound that with the fact that this was a start-stop collision (meaning the plaintiff starts to go and suddenly stops because of a car in front) and you have the makings of a defense verdict. Prior claims and other crashes in the middle of treatment for a crash will do you in every time.
Defense Verdict in Dekalb County July 2014
Cooper v. Marten Transport
Here is another example of this same principle, but this time involving a rear-ending by a tractor-trailer. The plaintiff was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer in what was clearly a low impact situation. The tractor-trailer company argued that the impact was lower than 4 mph. The plaintiff’s case was further hurt by the fact they had another rear-end accident 9 months before this crash with similar injuries. Again we see the low impact accident combined with a prior similar injury close in time. This is a deadly combination for plaintiffs even where a tractor-trailer company is the defendant. Juries (probably rightly so) just don’t award damages where it appears unlikely that the crash caused the injuries complained of.
US District Court for Northern District of Georgia June 2014.
Surgeon’s Testimony on Causation Leads to Plaintiff’s Verdict
Lewis v. Pham
In a case where the defendant admitted causing the crash, the plaintiff claimed back, neck and knee injuries. The defense claimed that there was a delay in the onset of the knee complaints and that there had been prior knee complaints 2 years before the crash. The plaintiff’s treating Doctor, James Chappius did the surgery and apparently testified that the crash caused it and that the patient would not have known it immediately. Given the fact that Dr. Chappius is frequently seen to testify in injury cases, it is likely that State Farm (the defendant’s insurer doubted the jury would believe the testimony). The jury did, however, and on $46,000 in bills returned a verdict for $76,000 for the Plaintiff.
Clayton County Plaintiff’s verdict August 2014
Red Light Swearing Contests Rarely Work Out
Shapiro v. Smith
Two drivers swearing off on who ran the red light with no eyewitness were left by the jury as they were found. The jury returned a defense verdict and shrugged their shoulders as they often do when they cannot tell who is telling the truth. Be careful on swearing contest cases with no physical evidence and no eyewitness. They are rarely winnable.
Clayton County Defense Verdict May 2014
Pre-Existing Medical Condition Kills Claim for Injuries in Car Accident
Stanton v. Riggins
Plaintiff was in a low impact rear-ender and drove away from the scene. She followed up with a chiro and then it looks like your typical referral by a lawyer to pain specialists with epidural injections and a surgical recommendation. The bad lawyer that worked the file up then brought in a good trial lawyer to try the case and even he could not get around the fact that the plaintiff had been treating for back trouble for years, including a trip to the ER just 9 weeks before. She claimed $41,000 in medical bills and $100,000 in futures for back surgery. The jury did not buy it and awarded only $7,000.
Low verdict in Dekalb on low impact crash with priors August 2014.
Driver Who Rear Ends Tractor Trailer and Dies Still Able to Win Lawsuit
Edins v. Stafford Transport
In a heavily contested liability trial in Fulton County, a jury found that although there was some responsibility on the dead driver for failing to avoid rear-ending the illegally stopped tractor-trailer, the majority of the blame was on the truck driver. We often explain that the strongest element of a case is the story and nature of the wrong. In this case, the decedent was on an I-285 ramp when she came upon a stopped tractor-trailer with missing or damaged reflectors and no safety triangles. the tractor had been involved in a collision with another vehicle 15 minutes prior but had not moved out of the lane. The Georgia Department of Transportation wrote a report saying that the truck was in bad repair and missing required reflective safety equipment.
The defense gambled that they could get the jury to find that the dead driver was at least 50% responsible for her own death in that she failed to avoid or brake. Under Georgia law, if a person is 50% at fault, then they cannot recover anything. The defense therefore only offered $750,000 in settlement and the Plaintiff demanded $1,750,000. At trial, it appears the safety violations carried the day with the jury and the jury found the life of the 76-year-old to be worth $4,000,000. The jury found that the tractor-trailer driver was 75% responsible and the driver was 25% responsible, yielding a net verdict to the plaintiff of approximately $3,000,000.
This case is an excellent illustration of the principal that concrete, material safety violations carry a great deal of weight with a jury and can overwhelm other defenses.
Fulton County Verdict for the Plaintiff despite the fact she rear-ended the tractor-trailer in July 2014.
Verdict in Ben Hill County Tells an Interesting Story Behind the Story
A verdict came out of Ben Hill County that was surprising in that the Plaintiff was a motorcyclist who had a .16 blood alcohol at the time that the defendant turned in front of him. Although there was strong evidence that the defendant vehicle turned suddenly in front of the motorcycle, juries are tough on motorcyclists, especially when they are DUI. The jury found that under Georgia’s apportionment law the plaintiff was 49% responsible and the defendant driver was 51% responsible.
The motorcyclist had $24,500 in medical bills and lost wages from severe road rash and toe fractures. The jury returned a verdict for $150,000 but the Plaintiff only received $76,000 after the reduction by the apportionment.
Those are the surface facts but the underlying story is more important. Cotton States offered $30,000 to settle the case pretrial and the Plaintiffs wanted $200,000. It is highly likely that had the Plaintiff demanded $60,000 or $70,000, Cotton States would have settled the case. Instead, the Plaintiff went to trial and almost got nothing. This is the hallmark of either a stubborn client or a stubborn lawyer. Hats off to the lawyer for getting a verdict, but this was a foolish case to try in a tough county.
Clayton County Case With a Disc Herniation Results in Elevated Value Settlement
In September of 2014, parties with a case pending in Clayton County settled a case for $160,000. There were $32,000 in medical bills and $27,000 in lost wages claimed and the medical care consisted of chiropractic care, epidural injections, and physical therapy. The parties disputed whether the herniation that showed up on the MRIs was caused by the crash. The reality is that does not matter. What matters is whether the disc was symptomatic prior to the crash. Typically you would see GEICO only offer between $70,000-80,000 on a case like this but with an African American male in front of a Clayton jury, the carrier clearly was concerned about an oversize verdict.
Green v. Lockett September 2014 Clayton County
What is a Soft Tissue Chiropractic Case Worth at Trial in Atlanta?
Benson v. Badi DeKalb County State Court
Mike Cherof took a typical Ken Nugent case to trial in DeKalb County in June 2014 with $5,858 in ER, chiropractic and orthopedic care. Mike has been around a long time and wisely demand $8,000. Unfortunately, he was dealing with United Auto, one of the cheapest insurance carriers in Georgia so their offer was $6,000. The case was tried and resulted in a verdict of $7858, which represents the medical bills and about $2,000 in pain and suffering.
This is pretty typical for a classic ER, chiropractic case that most TV lawyers deal with. What is unknown is what United offered before the suit was filed. Be realistic when you are using a TV lawyer on a chiropractic soft tissue case. It isn’t going to end well. What likely happened was the lawyer took 40%, expenses and the doctors got almost everything else. The client may have netted out $1,000. Is it worth it? I leave that up to the reader to judge.
Dekalb County Physical Therapy and Pain Injection Case Gets Low Verdict
Petrenko v. Moseri et al, June 2014
The Plaintiff was rear-ended on I-285 and claimed a back injury. She incurred $12,000 in medical bills from physical therapy and pain injections over the course of the year. The at-fault driver’s insurer tendered their $30,000 policy (which is pretty good all things considered). Here is where either the Plaintiff and her lawyers screwed up. The next level of coverage was the Underinsured Motorist insurance for the accident. The Plaintiff wanted more than the $30,000 paid and took the case to trial to get it. The jury only awarded the medicals of $12,000, meaning the entire trial was a total waste of time. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.
Progressive Sticks to its Guns on Low Impact Cases
On a more general note, I should point out that I mediate pretty frequently. One takeaway is that car carriers are much more apt to put decent value, say 1.7 multiplier on the meds on simple car accident cases where the property damage is solid. If there is only slight property damage though, the offers are barely 1.2 multiplier.
Golf Cart Crash in Peachtree City Results in Good Settlement
Tanner v. Witkowski, Fayette County, May 2014
Jason Schultz did a nice job on a Golf cart versus pedestrian case recently. The Plaintiff claimed the golf cart had no lights and apparently the driver was trying to use the iPhone flashlight feature to light the way. He hit the pedestrian and broke their foot, resulting in pins being placed in surgery and medical expenses of $41,000. Because of the ridiculousness of driving with an iPhone lighting the way, it appears the settlement came out very fairly for the Plaintiff at $200,000.
Medicals Only Verdict in Gwinnett on Hispanic Landscaper for Whiplash
Medina v. Tzintzu, Gwinnett County September 2014
Whiplash case with chiropractic care and ER treatment on a Hispanic male landscaper in Gwinnett County. Good property damage but there was a 7-month gap between the initial care and $2,000 of follow up care. The jury awarded the full medical bills of $7,400 but nothing for pain and suffering. With United Auto defending, the last offer of $5,500 is not surprising. They are terrible to deal with.
DeKalb County High Impact Chiropractic Case Settlement
Ellis v. Patel, DeKalb County November 2014
Allstate settled a case with $9,000 in chiropractic care for $22,000, likely because the case was in DeKalb County and there was a large amount of property damage in the car accident. Even though the Plaintiff had pre-existing injuries, Allstate paid a decent amount, reflecting their view that a high-impact crash has to be respected.
DeKalb County Medical Bills Only Verdict in Low Impact
Plas v. Thang, DeKalb County October 2014
Another meds only verdict at $8,000 for chiropractic and orthopedic care where there was low property damage. The moral of the story is, with low impact cases, don’t expect much.
Fayette County Rear-End Chiropractic Case Verdict
Hamler v. Olivera, Fayette County October 2014
A schoolteacher was rear-ended in Fayette County late at night. There was an 11-day delay till treatment and 19 chiro visits for a total of $3,600 in medical bills. The demand was $6,100, the offer was $5,100. The verdict was $7,200. What was the point of that trial Morgan and Morgan? This is a great example of a case that a lawyer should not have been involved in. Morgan’s fee is 40% plus their expenses of around $600 on the cheap side. That leaves the plaintiff $3,720 to pay off the chiropractor. Figure they take 50% of the bills so she nets out a whopping $1,900 after a year. Now assume she presented the case herself and only could settle for $4,500 so she nets $2,700 within several months. Which makes more sense? What a waste of resources all the way around. Oh yeah, $190 a visit for a chiro. What a joke.
Floyd County Leg Amputation Verdict for $8,600,000
Corley v. Floyd County December 2014
Our good friend Mike Werner took the case to trial in Floyd County in December 2014 and got an excellent result in a disputed liability case involving a Floyd County Emergency pickup truck colliding with a motorcycle rider. The crash caused his leg to be amputated at the knee and resulted in $400,000 in past medical bills and $178,000 in lost wages. The jury awarded $2,000,000 in future medical bills and huge amount for pain and suffering for a total award of $8,100,000. The final offer before trial had been $2,000,000.
Clayton County Chiropractic Case
Mays v. Terrell, February 2015
This case is a good illustration of the economic trouble with trying some cases. It was clear who caused the crash, the first chiropractic visit was 2 weeks after the crash. Plaintiff had $4,000 in medical bills and treated for around 2 months. The last offer before trial was $7,000 and the last demand was $15,000. The jury awarded $10,000, closer to the defense number than the plaintiff’s. The real question is when Sharon Ware made the $7,000 offer. If the offer was around $5,000 before filing suit, then proceeding with litigation was the smart thing. The client did better with the trial result unless the $7,000 offer was made prior to trial then the client should have settled with only a 33% fee and less in litigation expenses. Food for thought.
DeKalb County Case Disputed Liability
Talbert v. Mitchell, December 2014, State Farm
A driver got greedy and overreached on her case. A car pulled out from a gas station in front of the plaintiff and a crash ensued. The defendant had a $50,000 policy. The plaintiff went to the hospital and presented with an enlarged kidney and general pain. She followed up with a chiropractor and eventually an orthopedist to treat supraspinatus outlet syndrome.
The defendant’s insurer paid the $50,000 in policy limits but the plaintiff went to trial to try to get extra money from the underinsured motorist insurer, State Farm. The plaintiff overplayed her hand though because the jury did not associate the enlarged kidney issues with the crash and blamed the plaintiff for 49% of the crash based on the allegation that she was speeding and on her cell phone. It’s important to note that cell phone use can cut both ways at trial. In the end, she received only a $9,000 verdict that was reduced by 49% and wiped out by the prior payment of $50,000. She should have taken the early win against the liability insurer and not gotten greedy.
When the Liability Insurance has Paid OUt, There is Little Pressure on the Uninsured Motorist Insurer
Lebron et al. v. Rodriguez and State Farm, 8/14 Gwinnett County
In a car accident case where the plaintiff had $12,000 in past medical bills and $3,000 in future medical bills, the jury agreed with the defense and only awarded $8,180. The problem is the plaintiff had already settled with the liability policy for $25,000. In order to get any more money from State Farm, the uninsured motorist carrier, she would have had to obtain a verdict over $25,000. This is a foolish exercise on a case like that and the lawyer should have advised the client as such because there is no pressure on the uninsured motorist insurer.
Worker Crushed When Car Backs Up While He Loads it
Galindo v. Thomas et al., 9/14
A $600,000 settlement was reached in a Fulton County case for a loading bay worker who was crushed when the car he was loading for, a customer backed into him and pinned him to the dock. He suffered pelvic and knee fractures and underwent surgery. Backing injuries are all too common at loading docks and its good to see that a fair amount was paid out on such an ugly injury.
When Plaintiff Lies About Prior Medical Care, the Jury Will Turn Their Backs
Worthem v. Allen March 2015
A Clayton County jury returned a defense verdict in a clear liability case where the Plaintiff had shoulder surgery but the surgical findings showed that the injury was arthritic v. traumatic and the Plaintiff was caught lying on the stand when she denied medical care to that shoulder prior to trial.
But They Waived Me Forward
Baker v. O’Kelly-Goodson et al., Dekalb County Jan. 15
Two defendants pointed the finger at each other arguing that one waived the other into traffic. The plaintiff had $15,000 in emergency room bills and MRIs and chiropractic care. Ultimately the two defendants split the baby and paid a total settlement of $21,000. Even in DeKalb, an ER, chiro case is not often going to settle for even double the medical bills.
Even in DeKalb County a Plaintiff With a History of Problems Can Get Shot Down
Fogie v. Streiff, DeKalb County October 2015
The plaintiff was disabled from a car wreck 10 years prior and was rear-ended in a new crash resulted in injuries and a trial. The plaintiff’s car was totaled and he went to the ER and had chiropractic care and pain management from June to August. He had another batch of care starting the following year. The defense seems to have pegged this one at a meds-only offer of $15,500 and the verdict was $15,625. The last demand was $48,000 and the plaintiff presented a video deposition of the treating pain physician. The jury was not impressed, likely due to the fact the plaintiff was already disabled. It’s hard to argue disabled again. A little like double jeopardy.