In this case, our client was being tailgated. He tapped his brakes twice to attempt to warn the other driver to move back. Unfortunately, the tailgating driver struck our client’s truck after the second tap.
Although every driver’s education class in the country stresses that you must always remain at the scene of an accident, the driver who struck our client made the decision to flee. He told police he considered our client to be dangerous, but he drove by several well-lit parking lots, the county sheriff’s office, and his own home without stopping to call 911. Instead, he decided to take his eight-year-old son—who was in the vehicle when the accident occurred—to look at local private schools. This flagrant disregard for the safety of others became even more appalling when we learned that the driver was a licensed attorney.
Our client had the presence of mind to take a picture of the license plate of the fleeing driver, which is how we were able to track him down and take the case to court.
Aggravation of a Preexisting Injury
When the accident occurred, our client was being treated for a preexisting back injury. However, he was very physically fit and active. He enjoyed riding motorcycles, working in his yard, and running long-distance races.
The force of the collision caused his back pain to worsen. He suffered from chronic pain in his mid and lower back and pain from a new neck injury. Running became too painful. He sold his beloved motorcycle to purchase a hot tub for pain relief.
Building a Winning Case
In any personal injury case, the defense tries to shift the blame to the plaintiff. Here, the defendant’s insurance company argued that our client’s preexisting condition was not made worse by accident and that his pain was the natural result of his previous back injury. They also argued that our client deliberately tried to cause an accident by tapping on his brakes.
In addition to presenting thorough medical documentation from our client’s doctor, we helped counter the argument that his injury was not made worse by the accident by calling eight witnesses – family, friends, and coworkers – to testify in court. These witnesses provided firsthand accounts of how they saw our client’s activities and behaviors change after the accident as a result of his injuries.
To prepare for trial, we also conducted multiple focus groups. We found that there were three key facts that stuck out in the minds of potential jurors:
- The defendant was a lawyer—and thus fully aware that his conduct was unacceptable.
- The defendant had a child in the car at the time of the accident.
- The defendant drove by the sheriff’s office two times without stopping or calling 911—suggesting he believed he was above the law.
In the end, our hard work paid off. The jury returned a $192,000 verdict—an amount that was more than three times the initial settlement offer.
Do You Need to Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by another party’s negligence, an experienced Nebraska personal injury attorney can help you protect your right to compensation. Contact the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop by completing our online form or calling 402-281-9668 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.