In February of 2003, the Joye Law Firm reached a multi-million dollar settlement in a personal injury / auto accident claim against an out-of-state corporate defendant. At the defendant’s insistence, the exact dollar figure of the settlement was deemed confidential under the terms of the settlement agreement and cannot be disclosed by either party.
“It was the type of case that is a family’s worst nightmare,” explained former Joye Law Firm attorney Chris McCool. “The injuries to the client, who was the family breadwinner, were horrific. Not only did he sustain a traumatic brain injury, be he also sustained numerous broken bones to his legs, hip, ankles, ribs, and arm.” The injuries were so severe that the client had a prolonged hospital stay, numerous surgeries, and countless hours of physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Fortunately, the client’s family contacted the Joye Law Firm to handle the case shortly after the wreck occurred. “One of the keys to successfully resolving the case was the client’s family contacting us early on. By doing so, we were able to preserve evidence and interview eyewitnesses before they disappeared out of town,” said McCool. The fact that the defendant was an out-of-state corporation made it even more important for the Joye Law Firm to be involved from the outset. “Because of our early involvement, we were able to obtain an injunction from the Court and prevent the defendant from moving the vehicle and load involved in the wreck to its corporate headquarters and repairing these items. Once we obtained the injunction, we were then able to have an expert carefully examine the pieces of evidence, take extensive photographs and measurements, and document the condition of the evidence for future use. If the repairs had taken place before we had a chance to look at the vehicle and load, critical evidence would have been lost,” explained McCool.
Due to the nature of the wreck and the injuries to the client, a team of highly credentialed expert witnesses was assembled in order to protect the interests of the client. The experts were from across the country and their respective areas of expertise included neuropsychology and traumatic brain injuries, accident reconstruction, highway safety and commercial driver/licensing requirements, past and future economic damages, life care planning issues, and orthopedic injuries.
In order to obtain additional information regarding the careless and negligent acts of the defendant, a lawsuit was filed. “Based on the pre-suit investigation we conducted, we knew that the defendant was more concerned about its profits than the safety of the motoring public. The driver of that commercial vehicle should never have been behind the wheel of that truck,” said McCool. “Also, the defendant had no desire to resolve the case early on. One of its initial positions was that our client caused the wreck or played a significant role in causing the wreck. Again, the investigation we conducted on the front-end showed that this position was baseless.”
Once suit was filed the work only intensified. In addition to monitoring the medical well-being of the client and coordinating the work of all of the experts, extensive work was done to obtain corporate records and documents from the defendant. The records and information that were obtained showed that the defendant’s safety and training programs were non-existent. The records also contained the names of employees and former employees with knowledge of this negligent situation. Not all of these witnesses were easy to locate. “One of the witnesses whose testimony became very important was a former employee no longer living in the United States. Ultimately, our investigators located him at a military base overseas. His deposition testimony confirmed that the defendant corporation had little or no use for safety-related policies and procedures,” said McCool.
McCool concluded, “This was a terrible wreck that never should have happened. All that was needed was training, a mind for safety, and a little common sense. Because of the defendant’s negligent acts, our client will live with these injuries the rest of his life. The wreck not only affected our client, but it also affected his family. It is just a shame.” While the settlement will never reverse the injuries and damages sustained by the client, it is a way to ease the financial burdens related to his past and future medical costs. The client agrees. “Without Chris, I don’t know where I would be or what my family would do. He has been with us throughout. At my bedside. with my family during surgeries. Contacting doctors to help me get better. Chris was just my lawyer – now he’s my friend.”