Car Accident Lawsuit - News and Settlements
Car Accident Lawsuit News: CA Court of Appeals Reverses $13.9 Million Car Crash Verdict Against LA County
In February 2013, Los Angeles County public defender Donald Prigo was commuting home from his county job when he struck another vehicle with his car. As a result of this impact, the vehicle hit by Prigo was pushed into pedestrian Jake Newland, who suffered serious injuries.
Newland sued Prigo, Los Angeles County, and the driver of the vehicle that struck him, and in 2016 a jury awarded Newland $13.9 million in damages.
However, Los Angeles County appealed the decision, arguing that it should not have been held liable for the accident because there was nothing about Prigo’s job that required him to drive to work that day rather than take public transportation. While the county conceded that Prigo oftentimes is required to drive for his job—such as when visiting crime scenes—on the particular day in question, Prigo used his car only to commute to and from his office, which did not require use of a personal automobile of the kind that was involved in the accident.
On Monday, June 18, 2018, the majority for a split California appellate panel agreed with the county’s argument, overturning the $13.9 million judgment in favor of Newland.
Writing for the majority, Judge Sandy R. Kriegler stated, “Prigo never had emergency situations that required the use of his car during the day for work, except when he was in trial. In short, he did not need his car for work purposes on the day of the accident. Prigo was driving a normal, routine commute at the time of the accident from a fixed place of business to home.”
The panel’s majority disagreed with the lower-court judge’s decision to deny the county’s request for a jury instruction that would have required a finding that Prigo was “acting in the course and scope of his employment” when the accident occurred. Instead, the jury was told to use a standard of whether the employer received “some direct or incidental benefit” from Prigo’s driving his car to work that day.
In his dissent, Judge Lamar W. Baker asserted that the court should look to whether Prigo engaged in “sufficiently regular use” of his personal car for work, not whether use of the car was necessary at the exact moment the accident occurred.
Newland’s attorneys have indicated an intention to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, according to Law360.
Car Accident Lawsuit News: MDL Judge Sends Faulty Ignition Case Back to NM State Court
In 2014, Harrison Yazzie was driving a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu when he suffered a fatal car accident, allegedly as a result of the car’s faulty ignition mechanism. As is so often the case, this tragic incident set off a byzantine legal process under which General Motors sought to avoid legal and financial responsibility, instead trying to push off liability onto the “old” GM that is still undergoing federal bankruptcy proceedings.
Yazzie’s estate brought a suit on his behalf in New Mexico state court, after which GM sought to have the claim removed to a federal court, then to a district court in New York, where “old” GM remains embroiled in ongoing multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegedly defective ignition switches in certain GM models.
However, on Monday, June 11, 2018, the judge overseeing the ignition switch MDL sent the case back to New Mexico state court, citing that the model of vehicle in which Yazzie was killed was not included under the MDL. Following a similar ruling in 2017 in which the judge remanded a different case back to Connecticut state court, the decision sends a message to “new” GM that it will not be allowed to have cases removed to federal court at will simply because they involve vehicles manufactured by “old” GM.
The ruling further asserts that courts will not allow “new” GM to use the bankruptcy proceedings of “old” GM as a blank check in resolving issues relating to vehicles manufactured prior to “old” GM’s 2008 bankruptcy.
“[T]he bankruptcy of Old GM does not provide New GM with an open-ended ticket to remove cases from state court at will merely because they involve vehicles manufactured by Old GM,” Judge Jesse Furman wrote in support of his ruling.
The tactics engaged in by GM and other large corporate defendants are specifically tailored to run up the costs to plaintiffs, both personally and financially, in the hopes that they and their attorneys will simply give up, and to dissuade other plaintiffs from coming forward. That’s why you need a dedicated, experienced team of lawyers on your side who know the legal shenanigans engaged in by big-money defendants and are in it for the long haul.
If you or a loved one is ever injured in a car or trucking accident, contact the team of experienced attorneys at TheLawFirm.com right away for a free legal consultation!
Car Accident Lawsuit News: GM Settles First Self-Driving Car Accident Lawsuit
General Motors has reached a settlement with a California motorcyclist in what is being widely hailed as the first ever lawsuit brought over an accident involving a self-driving vehicle. A previous instance in which a self-driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona was quickly settled by ride-hailing giant Uber before the family could bring a lawsuit.
On December 7, 2017, Oscar Willhelm Nilsson was driving his motorcycle along a San Francisco street when he approached a GM vehicle operating in self-driving mode. According to Nilsson, the GM vehicle began to initiate a lane change, at which point Nilsson proceeded forward in the now-vacated lane. However, the GM vehicle quickly reversed course, swerving back into the original lane and striking Nilsson.
According to General Motors’ version of events, its vehicle began to initiate a lane change but aborted this attempt when a minivan in the new lane began to slow down, causing the vehicle to revert back to its original lane. GM claims that the San Francisco Police Department report concluded that Nilsson entered the lane position previously occupied by the GM vehicle before it was safe to do so.
As a result of the ensuing accident, Nilsson claims to have suffered serious neck and shoulder injuries. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Ironically, the same day, GM announced a $2.5 billion investment in its Cruise self-driving technology. The investor Softbank Vision Fund praised GM’s technology in a statement heralding the potential of self-driving vehicles to “dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions, and congestion” on the world’s roadways.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, contact the experienced team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com now for a free consultation. The law places strict deadlines on your ability to file a claim, so don’t delay!
Car Accidents Liability News: Metlife Insurance Responsible For Costs Of Man’s Leg Amputation Following Auto Crash
Demonstrating once again the extreme lengths to which large corporations will go to avoid financial responsibility or a precedent-setting decision that works against their interests, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. (MetLife) recently argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that it should not be responsible for the amputation of a man’s leg following an automobile accident because the man also suffered from diabetes, which MetLife argued may have contributed to the need for amputation.
However, in a published opinion released May 16, the three-judge panel roundly rejected MetLife’s argument and the lower court decision that had agreed with it, sending the case back to the trial court for a determination of damages.
In a not-so-subtle rebuke of the lower court’s application of the so-called substantial contribution standard, the panel wrote in its published decision, “Although the district court cited the substantial contribution standard, its application of that standard was clear error, as it was overly strict and not consistent with the requirement that the contributing factor be, in fact, substantial.”
The case stems from a tragic incident in which lower-court-plaintiff Tommy Dowdy was forced to have his lower leg amputated after a car accident left it almost completely severed at the ankle. MetLife denied Dowdy’s claim for reimbursement of expenses related to the amputation, citing the fact that Dowdy also suffered from diabetes, which MetLife claimed may have contributed to the amputation.
Seeking compensation, Dowdy and his wife Sharon Morris-Dowdy brought a suit against MetLife in California federal court in August 2015, but the district court dismissed the couple’s claims in April 2016, leading them to appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
Mark L. Mosley, attorney for Dowdy and Morris-Dowdy, applauded the decision, saying that it cleared up ambiguity regarding the causation standard that had been around for years if not decades. However, he noted the need receive compensation for his clients as soon as possible, as the fallout from the car accident had resulted in the couple’s becoming financially destitute.
Unexpected emergency medical expenses are a top cause of personal bankruptcies in America today. If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, make sure that you have a knowledgeable, dedicated attorney on your side from the outset, ready to fight for your rights and the compensation you deserve. If you suffer from an accident, contact TheLawFirm.com right away for a free consultation with an actual attorney. Don’t waste time wondering which law firm, just remember TheLawFirm.com!
Car Accident Lawsuit Verdict: Court Voids $8 Million Wrongful Death Verdict Against Domino’s For Fatal Delivery Crash
In January 2011, Richard Wiederhold was in the car, driving along with his then-girlfriend Yvonne, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a Domino’s delivery car swerved in front of his vehicle. In order to avoid a collision, Richard veered into the roadway’s center median, causing his car to flip over before coming to rest in a roadside ditch. During the accident, Weiderhold suffered injuries that left him quadriplegic.
Despite Richard’s severe physical ailments, his and Yvonne’s relationship continued, and, several months later, the two were married. Tragically, their time together as husband and wife would be brief, with Richard ultimately passing away from his injuries in March 2012.
Following her husband’s untimely death, as the surviving spouse, Yvonne assumed her husband’s place in his lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza LLC, which had become a wrongful death claim. Ultimately, she was awarded $8.1 million.
Predictably, rather than compensate the bereaved widow for the losses a jury deemed it owed her, Domino’s appealed the verdict, arguing, among other things, that Yvonne did not qualify as a “surviving spouse”—required in order for her to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of Richard—because she and Richard had not been married at the time of the original accident, a particularly heartless and tone-deaf argument for the pizza company to make to a woman who had lost her husband as a direct result of its agent’s actions.
Regardless of the ethical merits of Domino’s appeal, on May 11, a Florida state appellate court sided with some of Domino’s legal arguments, tossing out the $8 million verdict and requiring a new trial on the basis of improper remarks made by plaintiff’s counsel during the trial.
In its decision, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals found that Yvonne Wiederhold’s attorney repeatedly had referred to Domino’s as engaging in a “greedy charade” and as having essentially abandoned its delivery driver Jeffrey Kidd by failing to provide him with legal representation. The appellate court found that these remarks “false and highly prejudicial” to the extent that a new trial would be required.
(The appellate court did, however, reject Domino’s “surviving spouse” argument, declaring that the determinative date was that of Richard’s death, not of the accident.)
Now, Yvonne Wiederhold, having gone through a horrendous accident herself and watched as her boyfriend/husband was rendered quadriplegic and ultimately died from his injuries, now must relive the entire tragedy again by going through a new trial, which most likely will result in a similar verdict as the previous one.
This tragic yet all-too-common situation is yet another example of why, no matter the strength of your claim, quality legal representation is essential to getting you the justice and the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one should ever find yourselves injured in an auto accident caused by another, remember to contact TheLawFirm.com right away for a free legal consultation with an actual attorney. We’re your lawyer when you need us!
Car Accident Lawsuit News: NJ High Court Allows Apportionment Of Damages To Unidentified Defendants
In a case with legal ramifications that could spread across the country, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that a so-called “John Doe” defendant in a car accident could be held liable for a portion of the total damages due to the plaintiff. As it is unlikely that any “John Doe” defendant not identified by trial will later be located and held accountable, the end result of this ruling ultimately will be smaller awards to car-crash victims.
In a situation that literally could happen to anyone who operates a motor vehicle on public roads, lower-court plaintiff Mark Krzykalski was driving his car in the left lane of a four-lane road. As he passed through the intersection, a vehicle in the right-hand lane unexpectedly and unlawfully made a left-hand turn, suddenly veering in front of Mr. Krzykalski.
Mr. Krzykalski alertly slammed on his breaks, preventing a collision with the vehicle that had swerved into his path. Unfortunately, Mr. Krzykalski’s quick actions only allowed that driver—the unidentified “John Doe” defendant—to escape unscathed, while Mr. Krzykalski was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by the other lower-court defendant, a man named David Tindall.
Under New Jersey state law, if a jury finds multiple defendants liable for a plaintiff’s harms, the jury must then apportion the blame among the defendants according to percentages. In Mr. Krzykalski’s case, the jury sided with the plaintiff—who himself was clearly not at fault in any way, and probably by his alert action prevented a more dangerous situation—but apportioned only 3% of the blame to the known defendant Mr. Tindall, assigning the other 97% to the unidentified driver.
While it most likely is true that the entire situation would not have occurred but for the illegal act of the “John Doe” defendant, the end result of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the jury’s decision to apportion nearly all the blame to the unknown actor means that the true victim—Mr. Krzykalski—ends up receiving less than the full compensation he deserves, and likely needs, in order to deal with his injuries.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important to have a team of knowledgeable, experienced attorneys on your side. Contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation with an actual lawyer.
GM Lawsuit: GM Faulty Ignition Switches Could Cost $1 Billion In Bankruptcy Settlement
It is alleged that for years General Motors (GM) knowingly manufactured and sold millions of vehicles containing dangerously faulty ignition switches, the defective design of which allowed the ignition key to come out of position while the vehicle was still in operation. This, in turn, would disable the brakes and the airbags, clearly presenting a highly dangerous situation in the instance of a vehicle still in motion.
Now, nearly a decade after GM’s infamous bankruptcy and its split into still-operating “new” GM and still-bankrupt “old” GM, it appears that attorneys finally are nearing a deal that could result in old GM being liable for up to $35 billion over the defective switches. In turn, under a complex system set up when the two entities split, new GM could be hit with a $1 billion obligation of its own. (It is alleged that GM knowingly sold vehicles containing the faulty switches both before and after its 2009 bankruptcy filing.)
The potential deal came to light in a letter to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn from an attorney for a trust consisting of unsecured GM creditors. The law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP recently replaced Gibson Dunn & Crutcher as the trust’s legal counsel. The previous attorney representing the trust had been widely condemned for allowing an earlier deal—which many considered all but finalized—to fall through at the last minute.
At the time, even some members of the creditors trust—known as the GM Unsecured Creditors Trust, or GUC—had urged the court to consider the previous agreement legally enforceable. However, despite his clear frustration with the GUC trust’s counsel acting in obvious “bad faith”, Judge Glenn held there was nothing he could do to enforce the agreement.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced attorneys at TheLawFirm.com are standing by for a legal consultation.
Accident Lawsuit: Family Awarded $18 Million In Fatal Bus Accident
In April 2017, respected reconstructive hand surgeon Dr. Kayvan Khiabani was out for a bike ride when he found himself alongside a tour bus built by Motor Coach Industries (MCI). Suddenly, the 51-year-old father of two collided with the bus in what turned out to be a fatal accident.
Nearly a year later, on March 23, Dr. Khiabani’s two teenage children were awarded a cumulative total of nearly $19 million by a Nevada jury as compensation for their father’s death, as a jury agreed with the plaintiffs’ contention that MCI had failed to adequately warn about dangers associated with its vehicle.
In arguing on behalf of the children, Dr. Khiabani’s estate, and his now-deceased wife’s estate, lawyers for the plaintiffs had claimed that, although the particular bus that killed Dr. Khiabani had been manufactured in 2007, MCI had failed to significantly update the bus’s design since 1992. In arguing that this failure to update its buses with what in many instances has become standard technology amounted to a design defect, the plaintiffs cited the bus’s lacking both sensors on the side of the vehicle and a rear wheel protector. Plaintiffs also argued that the bus was defectively designed because of its large blind spot—which may have played a role in the driver failing to see Dr. Khiabani prior to the accident—and its flawed aerodynamics.
While finding against plaintiffs on the design defect claim, the jury did agree that MCI failed to adequately warn about the danger posed by air blasts emanating from the vehicle. The verdict granted Keon Khiabana a total of $9.2 million and Aria Khiabani a total of $7 million in damages for past grief and sorrow, future loss of financial support, and future loss of companionship. The estate of their mother was awarded $1.5 million for suffering while she was still alive, and Dr. Kiabani’s estate was awarded $1 million.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the expert attorneys at TheLawFirm.com now for free consultation.
Used Car Dealer Liable In Accident
A California court of appeals issued a ruling March 2 upholding a jury verdict awarding a plaintiff $7.4 million in damages for injuries suffered in an automobile accident allegedly caused by a used-car dealer’s failure to conduct needed repairs to a vehicle.
On November 3, 2017, Robert Dunlap borrowed his friend William Chapman’s truck, a Ford F-250 that Chapman had purchased used at Folsom Lake Ford. Dunlap hitched a van to the truck and hit the Arizona highway. After some time, however, the van Dunlap was towing got a flat tire, causing the vehicle to swerve violently toward the highway’s center median. When Dunlap attempted to regain control of the vehicle, the steering wheel locked, and the truck—van still in town—went careening off the road into the barrier. In the accident, Dunlap suffered injuries that left him partially paralyzed.
In his suit against Folsom Lake Ford, Dunlap had alleged that a prior owner had suffered almost identical problems with the steering, causing that owner to return the vehicle to the dealership. Even Dunlap’s friend—the vehicle’s then-owner William Chapman—had taken the truck back to the dealership, citing problems with the steering. As Chapman and his wife later would testify, a dealership technician had told the couple that the truck’s ball joints—which connect the wheels to the axis—were worn, but that there was nothing wrong with the steering.
At trial court, however, a jury found the dealership fully liable for Dunlap’s injuries, relying in part on expert testimony that concluded that the worn-out ball joints had resulted in the steering “locking up”. Worn ball joints can cause wheels on the same axis to begin spinning out of sync with one another, a phenomenon known as “stubbing”, which experts for the plaintiff claimed prevented Dunlap from being able to steer during the emergency situation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, contact the attorneys at TheLawFirm.com today for a free consultation.