Car Accident Lawsuit

Car accident lawsuit updates from around the United States.

Car Accident Lawsuit: W. Va. Jury Finds Ford Responsible for Fatal Mustang Crash, Awards Family $7m

June 7, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

On March 22, 2016, 19-year-old Breanna Bumgarner was driving her 2014 Ford Mustang along U.S. 33 near Spencer, West Virginia. Traveling in the opposite direction was Anna Errickson, a minor at the time, driving a 1989 Toyota pickup truck. After momentarily swerving off the road by accident, Errickson overcompensated, steering back onto the road and across the center line, where her pickup struck Bumgarner’s Mustang near the front of the driver’s side. The collision ruptured the Mustang’s brake fluid reservoir, and, moments later, the brake fluid ignited, causing a fire in the vehicle’s engine compartment. The fire rapidly spread to the passenger area. Tragically, during the crash, the vehicle door also was damaged and became wedged shut. Despite numerous bystanders attempting to free her from the vehicle and despite suffering only minor injuries in the crash, Bumgarner was trapped inside, where she burned to death.    

In March 2018, Angel Tyler—Bumgarner’s mother and the administrator of her estate—sued Ford Motor Co., the driver Anna Errickson, and her parents in Kanawha County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleged that the 2014 Ford Mustang driven by Bumgarner was defectively designed because the brake fluid reservoir was inadequately protected in the event of a crash, causing the fire that killed Bumgarner. The lawsuit further claimed that the Mustang’s safety cage was made from the same kind of steel as the vehicle’s crumple zones, which are designed to absorb the impact of a collision by essentially being crushed during a crash.    

“Ford knowingly concealed vital information about the fire hazard of the vehicle they manufactured,” an attorney for Bumgarner’s estate said in a statement. “They failed to address the defect or provide adequate safety measures to protect the driver’s compartment in the event of a fire.”    

While the plaintiffs sued the driver Anna Errickson for negligence, their claims against Ford Motor Co. included products liability, breach of implied warranty, negligence, and willful, wanton and reckless misconduct regarding vehicle safety.    

Lawyers for Bumgarner’s estate argued that, while Errickson’s negligence was responsible for the crash itself, Ford was at fault for Bumgarner’s death. In the end, a jury agreed, finding Ford 99% responsible and Errickson 1% responsible while awarding the plaintiffs $7 million, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported May 18.      

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an automobile accident for which you or they were not at fault, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!    

Sources:    

Kersey, Lori. (18 May 2022). Kanawha Jury awards $7m from Ford to family over woman’s crash death. Charleston Gazette-Mail    

Beasley Allen Law Firm. (18 May 2022). $7 million verdict reached in vehicle fire death case against Ford

Car Accident Lawsuit: Families of Teens Killed in High-Speed Police Chase Sue City of Yonkers, PD

March 30, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Alleging that police mishandled a high-speed pursuit that resulted in the death of four teens as well as the man police were attempting to pull over, the families of at least three of the victims have sued the city of Yonkers and the Yonkers Police Department over the December 2020 tragedy. The families filed their lawsuits separately, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported March 23.    

Police claim they observed 36-year-old Mount Vernon resident Devon Haywood driving erratically and subsequently attempted to pull him over. Rather than comply, Haywood sped off. It is at this point that the story told by Yonkers police and the one alleged by the victims’ families in their lawsuits begin to diverge.    

While both the city and the police department declined to comment on the recently filed lawsuits, the day after the incident, a police department spokesperson said that the officers who had attempted to pull Haywood over did not give chase in an attempt to avoid just this sort of tragic outcome.    

However, the lawsuits filed by the victim’s families contend otherwise, accusing police of instigating the high-speed pursuit, a move that one of the lawsuits describes as “unduly dangerous under the circumstances,” according to the Journal News.    

“It was the duty of the defendants (to)…direct police officers and/or personnel in the proper, appropriate and required care, precautions and conduct to be exercised in attempting to follow, chase, and/or apprehend a vehicle,” argues another one of the lawsuits.    

Attorneys for the families say their clients are hoping the lawsuit will reveal more detail about exactly what happened that day. One attorney said that his client is viewing the discovery phase of the litigation as an opportunity for the families to “learn exactly what the police were doing at the time that led to this terrible collision and the death of all these young people.”    

The statement acts a reminder that, in addition to being a means for seeking monetary and other damages, civil litigation also can be an avenue for gaining access to information that could not be obtained by any other means. A second attorney representing a different family echoed the sentiment, saying that the lawsuits represented a chance to get to “the bottom of what happened and give the families some piece of mind.”    

The four teenage victims—Brandon Sierra, Randy Brisbane, Tamari Watkins, and Anthony Cruz—were all 18 years old and recent graduates of Saunders Trades and Technical High School. They were all killed when Haywood’s speeding vehicle struck the 2006 Nissan they were riding in.    

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident that was not your fault, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free consultation!    

Source:    

Propper, David. (23 March 2022). Yonkers police sued over collision that killed f our city teenagers in 2020. Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Car Accident Lawsuit: Family of Bystander Victim in Fatal Police Chase Settles for $11m

March 14, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

On a Saturday morning in March 2021, a police officer in the city of Portsmouth, Virginia observed a woman in a store whom he thought he recognized. Waiting outside until she exited, he watched to see which vehicle she entered and ran the plates. The report came back indicating that the woman—identified as Ciara Elliot—was wanted on suspicion of several alleged crimes, including driving on a suspended license, fraud, and forgery.   

The Portsmouth police officer followed Elliot in her Jeep Wrangler, attempting to get her to pull over. Instead, Elliot fled. In a move that city officials would later acknowledge was reckless, the officer gave chase. During the ensuing high-speed pursuit, the vehicles reached speeds of up to 90 miles per hour on surface streets in densely populated areas.   

“You just don’t do something like that unless it’s a hostage situation or something else where people are in immediate danger,” attorney Jeffrey Breit would comment later, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “They had her address. They had her license plate. They could have just gone and found her.”   

As the police officer chased Elliot at speeds approaching triple digits, Calvin Majette III and his wife Tamika Pleas—parents of three children—were crossing the intersection of California Road and Victory Boulevard in their Chrysler 200 sedan. Elliot, still being pursued by the Portsmouth police officer, ran the red light at the same intersection and broadsided the couple’s car.   

Majette died on impact, and Pleas suffered injuries that would alter her life forever, including broken bones, internal bleeding, and severe brain trauma. Pleas fractured every rib in her body and was forced to have her spleen surgically removed. Worse yet, she suffered serious harm to her brain’s frontal lobe, which is responsible for higher-order thought and behavior. She will require lifelong care.   

City officials were quick to acknowledge the officer had acted recklessly in instigating and then continuing the dangerous chase, with City Attorney Burle Stromberg meeting with attorneys for Pleas and her family multiple times in an effort to settle the case.   

Those efforts paid off, with the family settling their claims for $11 million, their attorneys announced March 7, allowing the family to forego the trauma and uncertainty of a trial. The $11 million sum reportedly was the maximum that the city’s insurance would pay out per occurrence.     

Some of the money will be used to purchase a larger house where Pleas’ sister—a nurse who now cares for her sister full-time—can live, while a sizeable portion of the remainder will go toward the medical care Pleas will need for the rest of her life. Some of the money also will be placed into trust funds for the couple’s children, ages 18, 15, and 12, The Virginian-Pilot reported.   

“This family sadly will never be the same again,” said another of the family’s attorneys. “Not only did these children lose their father, they lost the mother they knew. She will never be the same again.”   

If you or a loved is ever seriously injured in an automobile accident, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!   

Source:   

Harper, Jane. (7 March 2022). Portsmouth agrees to $11 million settlement with family of man killed in high-speed police chase. The Virginian-Pilot

Car Accident Lawsuit: Jury Awards FLA Woman $16m from Her Own Insurance Company After Car Crash

February 28, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

A 29-year-old Florida woman has received a $16.4 million jury verdict against her insurer Travelers Home and Marine Insurance after the company failed to pay out her uninsured motorist claim in a timely manner, the Florida Times-Union reported February 17.  

On December 15, 2018, Jacksonville resident Jessica Long was rear-ended while idling in stop-and-go traffic on Interstate 95, sustaining “multiple spinal abnormalities in her neck and lawyer back,” her lawyers said.   

Although the driver of the other vehicle was at fault, the driver’s Allstate insurance was “insufficient” to cover the claim, court records show. Meanwhile, Long’s policy included limits of $100,000 for bodily injury and $300,000 per accident.   

Although Long sought payment from Travelers under her uninsured motorist policy, according to her lawyers, the insurance company refused to pay despite several chances to do so. Under the verdict, Travelers is ordered to pay the entire $16.4 million.   

While the driver and owner of the other vehicle both argued that Long failed to mitigate damages, Long’s lawyers said that her injuries are life-altering and that her condition will deteriorate further as she ages.   

“Most regrettably, her condition will grow worse with time,” said a lawyer for the plaintiff Long. “From her ability to do her job, to the ordinary simple pleasures of life, nearly every possible aspect of our client’s life was affected—and will continue to be—by her permanent injuries.”   

The fact that Long recovered $16.4 million from her own insurance company under her uninsured motorist coverage shows the importance of having an experienced, knowledgeable attorney protecting your rights, even when it comes to dealing with your own insurer.   

For a free legal consultation, contact TheLawFirm.com today!   

Sources:   

Lewin, Katherine. (17 February 2022). Injured Jacksonville woman, 29, awarded $16 million after 2018 car crash on Interstate 95. Florida Times-Union

Car Accident Lawsuit: Boston Man Sues Uber For $63m Over Crash That Left Him Paralyzed

February 2, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

A 31-year-old former restaurant worker has sued rideshare giant Uber and one of its drivers for $63 million after an April 30, 2021 accident left him paralyzed, the Boston Globe reported January 25.   

Will Good had summoned an Uber to drive him from his job at a restaurant in Boston to his home in Somerville, but during the ride, the Uber driver crashed into a parked car. Good—who slammed into a headrest—was paralyzed, becoming quadriplegic for life.   

In his lawsuit, Good focuses on allegations that Uber did not adequately screen the driver’s safety record, thereby putting passengers and the public at large in danger.   

“The consuming passenger here in Massachusetts is led to believe that Uber is in the business of vetting, screening, and holding its drivers to certain standards, when in fact, that’s really not true in many, many cases and that leads directly to what happened here,” a lawyer for the plaintiff Good told the Boston Globe. “Now we have a 31-year-old man who had a life, and a career, that’s been completely derailed, completely ruined.”   

Following the accident, Good was forced to spend two months in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, after which he spent two months at a rehabilitation center before transitioning back to life at home, where he relies on professional caretakers working in shifts.   

One of the questions that Good’s lawsuit raises is just how much legal responsibility Uber and other rideshare operators have for the actions of their companies’ drivers. While some—including many rideshare drivers themselves—argue that the drivers are employees whose employers are liable for their conduct within the scope of their business, rideshare companies themselves have spent hundreds of millions of dollars contesting this notion in court and at the ballot box.   

Multibillion-dollar rideshare giants like Uber and Lyft for years have argued that their business models cannot work unless their drivers are classified as independent contractors, while simultaneously lauding the “freedom to be one’s own boss” and other supposed benefits this classification gives drivers. Critics, on the other hand, contend that the companies are merely using a legal fiction to avoid the additional expense of employees, who have legal protections including the right to a minimum wage and the ability to unionize.   

“The product Uber is selling is driving,” another lawyer for Good told the Globe. “They can’t simply say, well, you know, our business model is to draw the passengers into the car and charge them when they get out and then take no responsibility for what happens while they’re in the car.”    

According to Good’s lawsuit, his driver at the time of the accident had a decades-long track record of dangerous driving, and yet Uber allowed him onto their platform anyway. Dating back to 1996, the driver had received at least 20 different traffic citations, even being forced by the state to undergo mandatory driver retraining. Still, somehow Uber allowed the individual to work as a professional driver, shuttling around paying customers.     

Source:   

Alanez, Tonya. (25 January 2022). Uber passenger paralyzed in crash sues company for $63 million. The Boston Globe

Car Accident Lawsuit: Family of DUI Crash Victims Awarded $301 Billion in Largest-Ever U.S. Personal Injury Verdict

December 12, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

The surviving family members of a grandmother and her 16-year-old granddaughter killed by a drunk driver in November 2017 were awarded the largest personal-injury verdict in United States history December 7, with a Texas jury finding that the family is owed $1.04 billion in “actual damages” and $300 billion in “exemplary damages,” local news outlets reported.    

Beyond the record-setting sum, the verdict is significant because of who the defendant is: Not the individual who had been driving under the influence, who also perished in the crash, but the bar where he had been overserved and its owners.    

The late driver Joshua Delbosque had been served 11 alcoholic beverages at now-defunct Beer Belly’s Sports Bar and had a blood alcohol level of .263 at the time of the fatal accident, local affiliate ABC13 reported based on court records.      

Under Texas law, as in most states, the legal limit for intoxication is a blood alcohol level of .08%.    

“Beer Belly’s either knew or should have known that Delbosque was a danger to himself and others based on his intoxication and lack of control over his mental and physical faculties,” the lawsuit filed by the victims’ family alleged, according to CNN.    

Despite the staggering verdict, the family expects to see little, if any, of the money. The defendant Beer Belly’s clearly would not have anywhere near the assets to pay almost one-third of a trillion dollars, even if it were still a going concern, which it is not. After Beer Belly’s liquor license expired in September 2019, it was subsequently canceled by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).    

“This case illustrates the consequences of selling alcohol to a person who’s already had too much,” a TABC spokesperson told CNN. “Texas law requires alcohol retailers to cut off customers who show signs of intoxication. Those who violate the law could face significant financial and legal consequences if their actions contribute to loss of life.”    

In addition to Beer Belly’s and its former owners’ inability to cover such a massive verdict with their own assets, establishments that sell alcohol in Texas are not required to have the kind of insurance that would cover such judgments against them.    

“[S]ince Texas does not require bars and restaurants who serve alcohol to have insurance this happens all too often,” an attorney for the victims’ family told CNN. “If bars and restaurants are required to carry insurance for this then insurance carriers would have oversight from that industry helping to make sure this does not happen again.”    

On November 12, 2017, 59-year-old Tamra Kay Kindred picked up her 16-year-old granddaughter, Aujuni Tamay Anderson, from her job at a pizza parlor in Corpus Christi, Texas. As Kindred’s vehicle passed through an intersection, a vehicle driven by Delbosque ran a red light at a high rate of speed, resulting in a violent collision that killed all three. It later was estimated that Delbosque’s vehicle had been traveling at 91 mph as it entered the intersection.    

While the historic verdict may end up being merely symbolic, the plaintiffs and their lawyers hope that it will send an important message that will help prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.    

“To every bartender, bar owner, and server, it’s OK to care enough about your customer and not let them get drunk and drive,” the plaintiffs told CNN in an email.    

  Sources:    

KSAT. (10 December 2021). Texas jury awards $301 billion settlement in lawsuit against bar for fatal drunken driving crash    

ABC13 KTRK. Jury awards Texas family $300 billion over 2017 DWI crash that killed teen and her grandmother    

Ebrahimji, Alisha. (10 December 2021). A jury awarded the family of two drunk driving victims more than $301 billion, but they don’t anticipate seeing any of it. CNN

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