On July 20, 2016, MLN Law obtained a $1 million settlement on behalf of an injured driver, a local nurse.
The wreck occurred on a local Georgia highway on September 20, 2013. A truck driver, driving a box truck, was tailgating only 17 feet behind a truck in front of him. On cross-examination, the driver testified that he had been tailgating at a speed of 60 m.p.h. for about 5 minutes.
When traffic slowed ahead, the tailgating truck driver had not left himself enough stopping distance, and thus rear-ended the plaintiff at close to 60 m.p.h. The responding police officer cited the truck driver, who later pled guilty to the traffic charge of Following Too Closely.
The injured plaintiff, a nurse, was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Doctors later diagnosed her with retrolisthesis, a displacement in her vertebrae, and recommended surgery. Two surgeries later, the client was forced to take a less physically-demanding job at the hospital rather than caring for patients. Doctors also proscribed that a “pain pump” be inserted into the nurse’s back to help with the constant and debilitating pain she felt post-wreck.
Despite the truck driver’s guilty plea, the Defendants contested liability throughout the case, based largely on the truck driver’s attempts to blame “phantom vehicles” for causing the wreck. However, MLN Law obtained the police officer’s dash cam video, which showed the truck driver describing the wreck without mentioning any phantom vehicles.
MLN Law also uncovered evidence of that the trucking company destroyed evidence. This spoliation issue arose because the defendants alleged that no “black box” data was available for the truck involved in the crash. However, MLN Law later proved that the defendants had hired a crash reconstructionist to download the data within a few days of the wreck. A motion for sanctions against the defendants was pending at the time of the settlement.
Despite this evidence, the defendants asked the Court to throw out the case on summary judgment. Based in part on the dash cam video and Defendant’s conflicting deposition testimony, the Court denied summary judgment. The Court held that that a jury could find that the truck driver’s “testimony is not credible, that the defendants are attempting to manufacture a defense where none exists, and that defendants engaged in spoliation of evidence.”
Defendants also tried to tie the plaintiff’s surgeries to alleged “pre-existing conditions.” The defendants went so far as to subpoena every medical record from the 45-year-old nurse’s history, starting with her birth. However, they were never able to make a credible argument that her injuries existed before the wreck.
The $1 million settlement was for the full policy limits provided by the insurance company.