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Georgia Appeals Court Upholds Million Dollar Wrongful Death Verdict in Trucking Accident

Published January 11, 2018 by Anthony Jones, II
Courts Kick Trucking Company to Curb – Uphold Million Dollar Wrongful Death Verdict

In our society, we seek to make life as safe as possible for each other. We take precautions, we follow the rules, and we behave in the way we’d like others to. Nevertheless, there are people out there who are so oblivious to their responsibilities to others that they regularly put the rest of us at risk for our very lives.

The world is a scary place. It’s one thing to take your life in your hands every day on the way to work. There are certain risks you are willing to take in order to care properly for your family. It’s quite another thing, however, when that risk is assumed by wives, mothers, and children. When they share the road with those reckless others we are rightfully fearful of what could happen. Here is a tragic example.

A Commercial Truck Accident Wrongful Death Story

In the very sad case of Metro Atlanta Trucking Co. v. Kyzer, 217 Ga. App. 630 (1995), a woman was killed when a commercial truck crashed into her vehicle as she attempted to make a left-hand turn. The truck was travelling at about 73 mph in a 40-mph speed zone. The truck had defective brakes and a non-functional speedometer. (The driver of the truck estimated his speed at the time of impact at or around 48-mph.)

The family of the decedent filed a wrongful death suit against both the trucking company and the driver.

The Truth; The Truck Was Going Very Fast

Evidence during trial demonstrated that the speeding truck pushed the decedent’s vehicle 87 feet beyond the point of impact. Had the brakes been properly operational, the woman’s vehicle might have been damaged, but the woman would have survived the impact.

Also made obvious at trial was the fact that the driver’s record was less than squeaky clean in spite of attempts by the defense to mislead the jury in that regard.

The Financial Compensation From the Verdict

The jury awarded the plaintiffs $875,000 for the wrongful death claim and $50,000 for the pain and suffering of the decedent. Finally the jury awarded $250,000 in punitive damages against the defendants. Defendants appealed the verdict.

A Poorly Executed But Common Defense Strategy in Motor Vehicle Accident Cases

The defendants alleged that the trial judge made a number of errors that entitled them to another trial. Among those errors was the court’s failure to grant a continuance so that an unavailable material witnesses’ testimony could be heard. (The trial proceeded without there being a ruling on the written motion or objection from the defense.) The defense also objected to plaintiff’s questioning of the Clayton County Medical Examiner in their attempt to discover whether or not the decedent had experienced anticipatory pain, fright, shock, or terror before the impact and suffering after the impact and its injuries. Attorneys for the defense called such testimony random speculation.

Upon review, the appellate court upheld the jury’s verdict in spite of the defense’s several arguments which the court found to be without merit.

It is not unusual for defense attorneys, particularly if they represent big insurance companies, to come to the appellate court with a basketful of flimsy excuses for overturning the jury’s verdict. In this case defense attorneys represented a trucking company that knowingly put defective, dangerous machinery on the highway and allowed it to be driven by a man with a dubious driving record. But they tried, nevertheless, to blame others. This case is a prime example of why personal injury lawyers are kept so busy.

When people are seriously injured, or as in this case, torn away from family and friends by the willful negligence of powerful others, those victims need the help of a well-trained, experienced advocate.

Lawyers Ready to Help You

The deep pockets of big insurance companies may make you feel as you don’t have the ability to fight back. You are entitled to excellent, aggressive representation. At The Millar Law Firm, we stand ready to listen to the facts in your case. We will evaluate the evidence and advise you of the best way for you to proceed. Don’t be defeated before the battle even begins. Call us today.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above article is a factually-accurate case history of an actual previously litigated or settled Georgia case. The case was reported on in local media and/or legal reporting services and it was not handled by The Millar Law Firm. However, we think our current and prospective clients may find this information interesting and informative as the case is factually similar to cases our office routinely handles. Please be advised that The Millar Law Firm makes no guarantees your case will have a similar outcome, as past results and results of our firm or of other lawyers and law firms are not indicative of future performance.

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