Automobile Accident Settles for $4.8 Million

Note: The recoveries in these cases are not necessarily indicative of recoveries in similar cases in the future, since each case must be decided on its own facts and circumstances.

Walter H. Emroch and Thomas J. McNally successfully represented a Richmond man in an automobile collision that settled for $4.8 million two months before trial. The plaintiff was injured when he was a 25-year-old employee of a landscaping company. He was working on a sidewalk when the defendant drove a pickup truck up onto the sidewalk, striking the plaintiff, backing up, striking the plaintiff again, and leaving the scene of the accident.

The plaintiff sustained serious and permanent injuries, including mild to moderate traumatic brain injury; loss of vision in the left eye, as well as right field of vision in the right eye; damage to his pituitary gland, requiring the plaintiff to remain on certain hormones for various functions; and some facial scarring. In spite of his injuries, the plaintiff had obtained an unrestricted driver’s license, was able to converse well with others, and had made a remarkable recovery given his initial injuries.

The defendant’s insurance carrier filed a declaratory judgment action, alleging that they did not owe coverage in the case because the driver did not have permission to drive the pickup truck that struck the plaintiff. The vehicle was owned by a car dealer, and had dealer tags on it. The vehicle had been kept at the home of the car dealer. Prior to the accident, the car dealer and his wife had separated, and he had lent his wife the vehicle to move furniture into her new home. The dealer testified that his wife was aware of the company policy that no one else was supposed to drive a company vehicle with dealer tags on it, except in the case of an emergency or with the permission of the owner. She denied any such knowledge of restrictions on her. On the morning of the accident, she removed the dealer tags from the vehicle, replaced them with her tags, and lent the vehicle to the driver, whom she had known for years, and whom, she believed, her husband would not have wanted to drive the vehicle.

Upon learning of the accident, the car dealer’s wife initially advised the police and the manager of the dealership that the vehicle had been stolen, but shortly thereafter, admitted that she had lent the vehicle to the defendant. Based on the testimony of the car dealer and his manager, as well as the removal of the plates and the initial statement that the vehicle had been stolen, the defendant’s insurance company took the position in the declaratory judgment action that there was no permission to drive the vehicle. In such a case, the plaintiff would have been left with $25,000 primary coverage on the defendant and $100,000 uninsured motorist coverage.

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I saw the commercials and the lady stating she was going down the highway with her two year old son in the car, and the tractor trailer hit her. In my case I was traveling down the highway and the truck hit me than made me lose control and I hit another vehicle that had a two year old child in it. I knew then your company would be a perfect fit for my case.
Theresa
Emroch & Kilduff
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