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Successful Jury Trial in Car Accident Case

Our firm recently obtained a favorable jury verdict on behalf of our client, who was injured in a rear-end car wreck.  From the beginning of the case, the defendant refused to accept responsibility for the wreck and our client’s injuries, claiming that his brakes suddenly failed.  With carefully planned depositions, we were able to show that the defendant never had an issue with his brakes before the wreck, he drove the car home after the wreck without incident, and his dad drove the car after the wreck without any problems with the brakes. 

The jury saw through the bogus defense and unanimously arrived at a verdict that was four times more than the insurance company’s pre-suit offer to settle and more than two times the highest offer made before trial.

Details follow although some names and places have been changed.

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Car Accident in Atlanta, Georgia

On the evening of August 2, 2017, Mr. Phillip Thompson was headed home to see his family after a day of work.  He was stopped at a traffic light on Piedmont Road and Pelham Road in Atlanta.  Mr. Thompson glanced into his rearview mirror and saw a Toyota 4Runner speeding toward him.  The 4Runner struck the rear of Mr. Thompson’s smaller sedan.  Mr. Thompson was taken to the emergency room by ambulance.

Car Accident Case

The driver of the 4Runner, Mr. Mohammad Abdullah, told the police officer that his brakes failed.  The police officer offered to tow Mr. Abdullah’s vehicle, but Mr. Abdullah insisted on driving the 4Runner home.  He drove the 4Runner home without any problems with the brakes.  In the days after the wreck, Mr. Abdullah’s father drove the 4Runner several miles to an auto shop.  Mr. Abdaullah’s father testified that the brakes were “perfect,” both before and after the wreck.

Personal Injuries from Car Accident

Mr. Thompson was in severe, worsening pain in the days after the wreck.  He looked up a local chiropractor and sought medical treatment. Through MRI imaging, Mr. Thompson’s chiropractor was able to diagnose him with two disc herniations in his neck and a disc bulge in his back.  

A disc herniation refers to a spinal injury that commonly occurs after a car wreck.  The spine is made of bones called vertebrae as you can see in the medical illustration below.  In between each vertebra is a rubbery cushion called a disc.  The disc has a soft, jelly-like center called the “nucleus,” and is encased in a tougher, rubbery exterior called the “annulus.”

A herniation can occur when a trauma, such as a rear-end car wreck, causes the nucleus to push through the annulus.  When that happens, the center of the disc pushes against the “thecal sac,” which is a tube that protects the spinal cord.  That pressure can cause serious pain and discomfort.   

Fighting with the Auto Insurance Company, Allstate

Mr. Abdullah’s insurance company, Allstate, forced Mr. Thompson to file a lawsuit.  Before filing the lawsuit, Mr. Thompson made an offer to settle his case, but Allstate wouldn’t even pay Mr. Thompson’s medical bills.  We’re seeing this more and more with insurance companies but with Allstate in particular. 

The evidence in the case showed that there were no problems with the brakes before the wreck and there were no problems after the wreck.  Neither defendant was able to show any brake maintenance before the wreck.  Further, neither defendant repaired the 4Runner’s brakes after the wreck before they sold the car to another driver. 

Instead, of accepting responsibility, Mr. Abdullah and his Allstate defense lawyer filed what’s called a motion for summary judgment.  A motion for summary judgment is where a party asks the Court to throw out a claim or an entire case because of the lack of evidence.  In our case, the defense asked the Court to throw out our claim for negligent failure to maintain the brakes against the father and a claim for attorney’s fees against both Defendants.  The briefing is available, click here.

The Court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.  The Court found that there was no evidence that either defendant did anything to properly maintain the 4Runnner’s brakes:

As to the claim for attorney’s fees, the Court found that both defendants violated a statute that was enacted for the protection of motorists. Mr. Abdallah violated the law prohibiting drivers from “following too closely” and Mr. Abdallah’s father violated the law requiring drivers to keep their brakes in “good working order.” The Court found that both of those violations were evidence that each defendant acted in “bad faith,” which allows the plaintiff to seek attorney’s fees.

 The Court’s Order is available, click here.

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Jury Trial in Cobb County of Car Accident Case

Even in the face of a jury trial, Allstate refused to make an offer that would cover Mr. Thompson’s medical bills, let alone the other damages an injured person is entitled to under Georgia law, like interference with daily activities, the shock of the impact, and fear over future medical treatment.  Allstate left Mr. Thompson with no choice but to present his case to a jury of his peers. 

At trial, the defense still refused to accept any responsibility.  Plaintiff began his case-in-chief by calling Mr. Abdullah, followed by Mr. Abdullah’s father on cross-examination.  Neither accepted responsibility.  Critically to Plaintiff’s case, Mr. Abdullah’s father repeatedly testified that the brakes were “perfect” before and after the wreck.  Next, we called Mr. Thompson to talk about his injuries and the impact on his life and Mr. Thompson’s chiropractor, who testified about his treatment. 

The defense made no attempt to prove brake failure.  The defense called no witnesses and introduced no evidence except for a photograph of Mr. Thompson’s car on cross-examination.  The defense was trying to “steal the close.”  Under Georgia law, a plaintiff is typically entitled to make a closing argument.  Then, the defendant makes his closing argument, and, finally, the plaintiff makes his or her concluding argument.  However, where a defendant presents no evidence, the defendant can “steal the close,” meaning the plaintiff makes his closing argument and the defendant makes the concluding remarks. 

While the Allstate defense cross-examined Mr. Thompson, he tried to show the jury a photograph of the property damage to Mr. Thompson’s car.  We immediately objected and insisted that the defense lawyer offer the photograph as evidence if he wanted to show it to the jury.  The Court agreed with us and made the defense tender the exhibit.  

After we rested our case, the Allstate defense lawyer argued that he presented no evidence and was entitled to “steal the close.”  We argued that the Allstate defense lawyer’s introduction of evidence, even if during the plaintiff’s case, deprived him of the ability to steal the close.  The Court took a recess the research the issue, then agreed with us.  Allstate’s lawyer was not allowed to “steal the close.”

Jury’s Verdict in Personal Injury Case

Just before 5:00 pm on the second day of trial, the jury arrived at a unanimous verdict in favor of Mr. Thompson.  The jury saw right through the bogus “brake failure” defense.  More importantly, the jury’s verdict compensated Mr. Thompson for all his medical bills, plus damages for his past pain and suffering.  The final verdict was more than four times Allstate’s original offer and more than two times the highest pre-trial offer. 

Sometimes the only way to get the outcome you deserve is to take the case to trial.  That’s why it’s important to hire a personal injury law firm with trial experience. If your lawyer isn’t willing to go the distance, you could end up settling your case for less than it is worth.  You need a law firm that doesn’t mind a good fight.

The case was handled at BLF by Matt Kahn, Jeb Butler, and Melody Walker.  Our client’s Google review of us is below.  His video review of us is above – it’s the first video on this page.

 

Picture of Matt Kahn
Matt Kahn is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer and a partner at the law firm Butler Kahn. Matt has dedicated his career to fighting for individuals and families who had been harmed by the negligence of others. At Butler Kahn, he has had the honor of helping families who have lost children in motor vehicle accidents and people who were critically injured. He helped a family secure a $45 million settlement to provide lifetime care for their son, who was critically injured in a motorcycle accident. Matt is a graduate of Emory University School of Law and has been recognized as a Super Lawyers’ Rising Star and by Best Lawyers as One to Watch. He has received an Avvo 10.0 Top Attorney rating. Connect with me on LinkedIn
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