Motor Vehicle Accident Cases
From motor vehicle accident victories in Columbus, Ohio, to the triumph of truth regarding personal injury and wrongful death cases around the country, we were fortunate to be able to play a part in the successful outcomes of and resolutions to the cases below.
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Vargo v. Motorists Mutual Insurance Co.
Franklin County | $3.1 Million Settlement
The family of Jackie Vargo received $3.1 million in damages and interest in a binding arbitration against Motorists Mutual seeking underinsurance coverage for damages arising out of her death in an automobile accident in April 1996. In addition to the wrongful death award of $2.8 million, the Vargo family was to receive $300,000 in interest. Prior to the arbitration, Motorists Mutual’s highest offer was $900,000.
Ms. Vargo was killed when a Dodge Viper, being driven at speeds in excess of 100 mph, struck the car she was driving. Both occupants of the Viper (who were brothers) denied being the driver, and an expert in biomechanical engineering and injury pattern analysis was utilized as an expert to establish which of the brothers was driving.
Estate of Jake Doe v. XYZ Transportation
Trumbull County | $1.8 Million Settlement
Jake Doe was a 34-year-old, unmarried father working on a tree-trimming crew along a state highway. A semi truck failed to yield to the flag person attempting to control traffic around the crew and drove right past the flag person’s stop sign. The truck veered off the side of the roadway and crashed into the crew’s trucks and crew members. Jake’s injuries were significant, and though he survived briefly, his injuries were fatal. Jake’s daughter was able to recover not only this settlement from the trucking company but also a very significant amount from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for the many injuries he suffered before his death.
Annett v. Dlesk Supply Co.
Richland County | $1.2 Million Settlement
A $1.2 million settlement on behalf of a 42-year-old man who was a passenger in a vehicle that was struck in the rear and pushed into oncoming traffic. The collision resulted in a traumatic brain injury that left him with permanent long- and short-term memory impairment but no physical injuries.
Ewing v. ABC Delivery Co.
Pickaway County | $1.2 Million Settlement
A $1.2 million settlement on behalf of the family of a six-year-old girl who was crushed by a home delivery truck that backed over the girl while she was on her bike. The defense contended that her death was an unavoidable accident on the part of the driver because the girl rode her bike too close to the rear of the truck after it had stopped, thus putting her in the blind spot of the truck’s rearview mirrors. The defense also contended that the absence of an audible backup alarm on the fleet delivery truck was not the proximate cause of the accident since an audible alarm would not have provided sufficient warning to the girl to permit her to escape from harm’s way.
The plaintiff contended that failure to have available rear-mounted convex mirrors on the back of the truck to eliminate the blind spot created a zone of danger for which the defendant’s driver was responsible.
Dorsey v. Campbell Hauling
Franklin County | $1,025,000 Settlement
Settlement for $1,025,000; $850,000 from the tortfeasor and $175,000 from the underinsured motorist insurance company. Beth Dorsey was operating her automobile southbound on I-270 when a dump truck traveling northbound on I-270 crossed the median and continued northbound in the southbound lanes before crashing head-on into Ms. Dorsey’s car. Ms. Dorsey suffered severe and permanent injuries, including, but not limited to, the fracture of her the C4 vertebra (which required her to be placed in halo traction for three months); three broken ribs; a concussion; open and compound fractures of her right foot, ankle and hand; additional fractures in the right leg and arm; and paralysis of the right thoracic nerve.
The driver of the dump truck was declared dead at the scene of the accident. His autopsy revealed that he did not die from any injuries sustained in the accident. Rather, his death was determined to have been due to pseudoephedrine intoxication associated with cardiomegaly.
The defendants asserted the affirmative defense of sudden emergency in an attempt to avoid liability. They alleged that Mr. Campbell, who had a preexisting heart condition, suffered health problems of a sudden onset that caused his death prior to the collision with Ms. Dorsey. However, it was undisputed that the amount of pseudoephedrine (a known drug of abuse) found in the truck driver’s body was greater than the recommended dose. In fact, experts testified that the amount found in the driver’s system would require seven times the therapeutic dosage of the drug, or 17.5 tablets of 30 mg strength.
Shoe v. Shrader
Franklin County | $1 Million Jury Verdict
A $1 million jury verdict on behalf of the family of a 14-year-old girl who was killed in a car accident. Based on evidence that the girl survived for 15 to 20 minutes, $250,000 was awarded for a survivorship claim. The pretrial offer by the insurance company of $500,000 was rejected. (Note: This is one of the only four wrongful death verdicts of $1 million or more in Franklin County in the last 10 years. A $2.4 million award was obtained by Gerald Leeseberg in Lambert v. Shearer in 1991.)
Isse v. Sandhu Logistics
Indiana (Interstate) | $1 Million Settlement
Mohamed Isse was driving his vehicle on I-70 eastbound near Richmond, Indiana, on a snowy night. The defendant’s tractor-trailer was operating at an inappropriate speed given the weather conditions. The driver of the defendant’s truck lost control, drove left of center across the grass median and crashed into Mr. Isse’s car. Mr. Isse died immediately. The defendant agreed to pay its insurance policy limits to Mr. Isse’s family as a result of the clear negligence of its driver.
Ali v. Bavarian Motor Transport
U.S. District Court | $959,000 Jury Verdict
A non-English-speaking Somali refugee was driving his vehicle on I-71 eastbound near Cooper Stadium in Columbus when the defendant’s tractor-trailer came left of center across the concrete “Jersey barrier” and into the plaintiff’s lane of travel. The plaintiff suffered a comminuted fracture of the femur (thigh) and radius (wrist). The defendant contended that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent for failing to take reasonable action to avoid the collision. The plaintiff’s testimony was presented entirely through a court-approved interpreter.
John and Jane Doe v. Truck Driver
Ocala, Florida | $775,000 Settlement
Settlement arising out of reckless conduct of a drunk driver. “Truck Driver” was operating a pickup truck at excessive speeds while under the influence of alcohol. He sped up in an attempt to get through an intersection before a red light and smashed into the car driven by John and Jane Doe, an elderly couple, killing them both. Truck Driver had a long history of driving violations and minimum insurance coverage. However, he was driving a vehicle purchased by his employer, who was well aware of his reckless driving history. Though he was not working at the time of the accident, the employer was forced to contribute to the settlement due to its negligence in hiring and employing Truck Driver and giving him a vehicle to use, despite his driving record.
Smith v. Motorists Insurance Company
Ross County | $609,000 Jury Verdict
A $609,000 jury verdict in an underinsured motorist claim that was affirmed on appeal. The plaintiff, a manager of the service station, was pinned between the frame and bed of a dump truck at the garage for service when the bed closed on her as she began repairs. The tortfeasor, the owner of the truck, failed to advise the plaintiff of the need to prop the bed up when doing repairs.
Garwood v. Kirian
Allen County | $600,000 Settlement
Pre-suit settlement for $600,000 in total; $200,000 from the tortfeasor and $400,000 from the underinsured motorist insurance company. Bud and Goldie Garwood suffered severe injuries after the defendant backed out of a private drive directly into their path. While trying to avoid the collision, the Garwoods’ vehicle lost control and struck an embankment at a high rate of speed.
Mrs. Garwood suffered the following injuries: a partially severed right foot, fracture of her left foot, a torn rotator cuff and multiple cuts and bruises. Mr. Garwood severely fractured his right forearm, which required surgery. The fracture, unfortunately, developed nonunion.
Hilderbrand v. Dilgard
Ashland County | $500,000 Settlement
A wrongful death settlement from limited insurance coverage, arising out of a vehicular collision in Ashland County. The 50-year-old decedent was survived by her husband and adult children.
Harrison v. Busic
Fairfield County | $500,000 Settlement
Settlement for insurance policy limits of $500,000. Kenneth Harrison, a licensed motorcycle operator for the past 26 years, was riding a motorcycle on a residential street when the defendant negligently reversed from a driveway directly into his path of travel. Mr. Harrison was severely injured in the impact. His injuries included segmented and dislocated fractures on the right leg and ankle, a dislocated hip, a fracture of the right pinkie finger and compartment syndrome that required skin grafts. His recovery was further complicated by the delayed union of the tibia fracture, which required him to undergo three additional surgical procedures.
Mijajlovic v. State Farm Insurance Company
Allen County | $420,000 Pre-suit Settlement
Pre-suit settlement for a 22-year-old female traveling home to Columbus after visiting her grandmother in Chicago. She was critically injured when an oncoming vehicle suddenly drove left of center and struck her car head-on. The attorneys at Leeseberg & Valentine not only secured the policy limits from the driver’s insurance company but was able to uncover additional insurance coverage through an umbrella policy to ensure that Ms. Mijajlovic was properly and adequately compensated for her injuries, lost wages and emotional damages.
Randall v. Padgett
Montgomery County | $300,000 Jury Verdict
Plaintiff, an alcoholic, was riding a motorcycle that collided with the defendant’s vehicle when the defendant made a U-turn. The defense presented testimony that the plaintiff’s consumption of alcohol was the cause of the collision. The case was bifurcated for trial, and the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff on liability, despite evidence of the plaintiff’s blood alcohol content of .12. The case was settled for policy limits of $300,000.
Root v. Westfield Insurance
Franklin County | $280,000 Settlement
The plaintiffs in this case suffered injuries when another driver, Leslie Anderson, drove her car left of center and into the plaintiffs’ lane of travel, crashing into the plaintiffs. Ms. Anderson had inadequate insurance to cover the injuries, and the plaintiffs had to file suit against their own insurance company, Westfield Insurance. To avoid liability, Westfield tried to argue that Ms. Anderson had a stroke, which was why she crashed into the plaintiffs’ car. Leeseberg & Valentine successfully obtained summary judgment on that “sudden medical emergency” defense, and Westfield ultimately agreed to a settlement of the claims.
Estate of John Doe v. Jim Doe, Et Al.
Franklin County | $250,000 Settlement
Settlement following the death of an 18-year-old high school student who attended an underage drinking party at the defendants’ home, became intoxicated and crashed his car on the way home from that party.
Estate of Dorothy Miller v. Maple Drive Farms, Et Al.
Crawford County | $410,000 Settlement
The decedent was riding her bicycle when a semi truck attempted to pass her while speeding and without verbally signaling his intent to pass. The bike rider, unaware of the truck’s presence, began a U-turn to head in the other direction. During this U-turn, she was struck by the semi truck and suffered fatal injuries. The bike rider was retired with adult children and a spouse, but economic damages were limited. There were significant disputes as to liability for the crash and death, and ultimately, the case was settled by the parties.