When injured in a highway traffic accident, this plaintiff went to court to resolve liability for the accident. When the trial was over and the jury’s award was calculated, this plaintiff had to ask if it was worth going to court.
The plaintiff, a man aged 40 years, was driving on an Interstate highway in heavy traffic. His vehicle was rear-ended by another vehicle driven by the defendant. The plaintiff argued that the defendant failed to maintain a proper distance between cars and to keep an appropriate look at the road and other vehicles. Plaintiff’s claim was that this amounted to negligence.
The plaintiff claimed that he sustained a shoulder injury in the auto accident. He “demanded” damages of $30,000 based on his claim that the accident caused a torn rotator cuff, which required surgery. His demand included payment of damages of $12,000 for related medical costs and $2,000 in lost income.
During the trial, the defendant admitted fault for the car accident. She disputed the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries due to the accident.
The jury deliberated for about one and one-half hours. They returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $20,000.
Prior to the trial the defendant’s insurance company offered a settlement of $14,000. The plaintiff’s shoulder surgery might have warranted a larger amount for pain and suffering, but the jury apparently thought it did not.
When the case was over and the it was evaluated, the $20,000 verdict cost the plaintiff for fees for an expert witness, plus the time and trouble that was required to get to trial. That amount compared to the insurance company’s offer raises the question of whether it was worth it to go to court for the minimal amount of the net difference.
Granting that it is very easy to make these judgments with hindsight,
- do you think it was worth going to trial?B
- Would you have done the same thing?
Had the plaintiff hired an experienced auto accident attorney, the case would have been evaluated realistically. A trusted competent auto accident attorney probably would have been able to help the plaintiff understand the likely amount of a court verdict, the cost of preparing the case and going to trial, and how that compared with the offer from the insurance company.
In this particular case, it is difficult to conjecture what an attorney’s advice would have been. We also do not know if an experienced auto accident attorney could have negotiated a higher settlement offer from the defendant’s insurance company. This can be viewed as an example of why you should speak with an attorney before filing an auto accident lawsuit.
Bettina Altizer has been trusted by hundreds of clients to analyze and evaluate their auto accidents and help them decide whether to settle or go to trial. She has never been reluctant to litigate for any client if her experience suggested that it would be justified. When the details of an accident suggest that the case might not justify a court trial, she is an effective negotiator of appropriate settlements.
If you have been in an auto accident and you need legal representation in Virginia, call Altizer Law, P.C. in Roanoke. Bettina and her team will work with you with their typical aggressive tenacity until they obtain the best possible settlement for you under Virginia Law.