October 30, 2017, began just like any other day for our client. Mark was driving on Iowa Highway 3 in Bremer County, Iowa, on his way to work at his welding job. It was a trip he'd taken many times before, but he had no way of knowing how much his life was about to change.
A fatigued employee of a Minnesota trucking company in the middle of a trip traveling across multiple states was driving north on north on U.S. Highway 218 in a tractor-trailer carrying steel beams. She went through a stop sign on the ramp leading to Highway 3 and struck Mark's pickup truck on the driver's side.
The force of the impact caused Mark's vehicle to overturn, spin around, and come to rest on its passenger side. The driver's side of the vehicle was crushed by the impact.
Mark's Life Would Never Be the Same
Mark had no broken bones and no visible injuries, but this didn't mean he wasn't seriously hurt. The muscle and ligament damage in his neck, head, and shoulders led to more than 50 physical therapy visits, as well as appointments for trigger point injections, nerve blocks, and dry needling.
As a result of his chronic pain from the accident, Mark found it difficult to continue meeting the physical demands of his job and to keep up with his active grandchildren. He had to stop hunting and fishing because hiking on uneven ground was too painful. Driving long distances was also very challenging, which meant he wasn't able to make the five-hour car trip to Minnesota to support his beloved older sister while she was undergoing cancer treatments.
Two Attorneys for the Price of One
Bruce J. Toenjes of Nelson & Toenjes in Iowa reached out to Attorney Matthew A. Lathrop of the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop PC to help try the case, and they worked together on this to achieve the best possible result for the client. "We love working with other lawyers," Matt said. "I'm always excited when we get the chance to learn from other lawyers while better serving the client. Over and over, we've seen that collaborating makes challenging cases easier to try and leads to better results than if we'd go it alone."
Because the two firms worked out a shared fee agreement, this collaboration did not result in any additional expense for the client. For the same initially agreed-upon contingency fee, Mark gained access to two experienced attorneys who were able to build a case detailing negligent hiring and training of the tractor-trailer driver and negligence in leasing the tractor-trailer.
The Jury Returns an Impressive Verdict
The trial lasted four days and featured 21 witnesses. The most compelling testimony came from Mark's family and friends, who were able to provide detailed accounts of how his injuries had made it difficult for him to work, enjoy his favorite hobbies, and spend time with loved ones. "The pandemic has made jurors more aware of the value of a person's health, relationships with family, and ability to engage in the activities they most enjoy," Matt said.
The federal jury turned in an $800,000 verdict that included $400,000 for past and future loss of full body function and $400,000 for past and future physical and mental pain and suffering.
Mark was found to be 5% at fault for the accident, while the driver of the tractor-trailer was found 95% at fault. This reduced his award to $760,000, but the judgment was an impressive win given that there hadn't been a verdict in favor of the plaintiff coming out of that particular courthouse in 15 years. The defendant had made initial offers of around $100,000, then offered $300,000 to settle before the trial began. Given the substantial impact the accident had on his day-to-day activities, Mark wisely decided to take the case to the jury.
Do You Need to Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
Have you suffered serious injuries in a truck accident caused by another party's negligence? Do you have questions about your rights or how an attorney can help you? 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.