Johnnie was on his way home when a car ran a stop sign in front of his 18-wheeler, causing a serious accident. Thinking quickly, Johnnie’s heroic actions saved the other driver from certain death, but exposed himself to debilitating injuries. Our workers’ compensation and car accident lawyers worked together to secure nearly $700,000 for Johnnie and his family.
As Johnnie was nearing the end of his work week as a tractor-trailer operator, he was looking forward to a quiet dinner with his wife and children after being on the road for several days.
Suddenly, his thoughts changed from that of a tranquil evening to that of life and death. As Johnnie approached an intersection, the driver of a car failed to stop for a stop sign and was crossing directly in front of Johnnie’s tractor trailer rig.
If Johnnie slammed on his brakes, he would collide with the vehicle, likely killing the driver, but sustaining minimal injuries to himself. If he slammed on his brakes and swerved to the left into a ditch, Johnnie would spare the driver from certain death but would likely sustain serious injuries to himself.
Because Johnnie was attentive, he was able to quickly process this information and evaluate the outcomes of his actions. Johnnie decided to slam on his brakes and swerve into the ditch. The life of the other driver was spared, but at Johnnie’s expense. Johnnie sustained numerous debilitating injuries, including injuries to his neck, right shoulder, and right hand.
Unfortunately Johnnie had to undergo three separate surgeries for his injuries and he would never again drive for a living.
“What Johnnie did was amazing. He put the life and well-being of another driver, a driver who caused the wreck, before his own well-being,” commented Joye Law Firm attorney Ken Harrell.
Because Johnnie’s injury occurred on the job, Mr. Harrell was able to represent Johnnie and protect his interests in a workers’ compensation claim.
“I can’t imagine how I would have even gotten through the workers’ compensation claim without Ken’s help,” said Johnnie. “We must have had the worst workers’ compensation insurance adjuster ever – for nearly three years, he botched up my checks but Ken and his staff was relentless in pushing him to pay me the money my family and I needed to survive.”
Eventually, Johnnie’s workers’ compensation claim was resolved for $150,000.00 and the provision of lifetime medical treatment for his work injuries by the workers’ compensation insurance company.
“There was absolutely no downside to this settlement, “said Mr. Harrell. “The most Jack could have recovered for disability benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act was $144,000.00. Not only did the carrier agree to pay more than this amount, but it also agreed to provide Jack with lifetime medical coverage. Of course, we did have to fight for nearly two months to get the settlement check, which was consistent with how slack the adjuster on Johnnie’s case was.”
Throughout the course of Johnnie’s workers’ compensation claim, Joye Law Firm attorney Chris McCool was working on a “third-party claim” against the at-fault driver in the collision. Because Johnnie was injured as the result of the negligent actions of someone other than a co-worker, he was permitted to pursue a civil claim against the at-fault driver under South Carolina law.
“It is important to be able to identify when a ‘third-party claim’ can be pursued. By doing so, an injured person can be compensated for damages, such as pain and suffering, not covered by the workers’ compensation laws in South Carolina,” explained McCool.
Because the insurance company for the at-fault driver questioned the severity of Johnnie’s injuries, the Joye Law Firm filed suit against the driver in the third-party claim.
“I believe the insurance company’s motive was to try and take advantage of Johnnie while he was down and see if he would accept a nominal settlement,” observed McCool. “The company doctors in the workers’ compensation claim had already confirmed the severity of the injuries and that the injuries he needed surgery for were caused by the wreck. I don’t see how their motive could have been otherwise,” added McCool.
After taking various depositions and hiring an economic expert to analyze Johnnie’s past and future lost earnings, the action was settled for $550,000.00 at mediation.
“The result of the third-party claim shows the effectiveness of our team approach at the Joye Law Firm,” remarked Harrell. “We are here to help our clients with various problems and through various phases of representation. Our knowledge of the law, backed by our strong work ethic, helps us protect the rights of our clients. And our aim is to continue this into the future so that Johnnie and others are compensated for their injuries and damages.” added Harrell.