When a middle-aged man, a productive and contributing member of society is devastatingly injured and forever sidelined by a drunk driver, did the jury over-compensate him for his dire injuries? This particular jury thought the man’s unfathomable pain and suffering was worth $7,000,000. What do you think?
Arnsdorff v. Fortner, 276 Ga. App. 1
The facts in the case of Arnsdorff v. Fortner, 276 Ga. App. 1, are these.
One September evening, a drunk driver ran a stop sign and made a left turn, hitting the vehicle of the plaintiff, a 47-year-old professional truck driver. The plaintiff was very seriously injured and the defendant was charged with DYI, failure to yield, and four counts of serious injury by accident.
The plaintiff was put into a chemically induced coma for the first month of his hospitalization in order to ensure his body’s ability to obtain oxygen through ventilation. His life-threatening injuries required four months of hospitalization, multiple surgeries, and resulted in a litany of complications.
Even after his release from the original hospital stay, the Plaintiff endured two orthopedic surgeries to re-gain some degree of motion in his shoulder. This was necessary to allow him to effectively use his shoulder and right hand well enough to accomplish the small, day-to-day tasks of living. This professional truck driver could no longer work at his accustomed job due to the injuries resulting from the collision.
Long-Term Injuries Resulting in Fear
The plaintiff, after being released from the hospital, was forced to live in his parent’s home. The injured man was cared for daily by the members of his family. Family members daily dressed his wounds, gave him intravenous antibiotics, and provide massage of his hands and feet to ease the nerve pain since he could not sleep. This strong and active man had been reduced to a weak and helpless individual who was in constant pain and suffered mounting depression. At trial the plaintiff testified that his pain was so severe that he was afraid to close his eyes for fear of never waking again.
The Awarded Compensation
When the jury considered the facts of his injuries and the ways in which the plaintiff’s life had been forever diminished, they awarded him $7,000,000 including punitive damages.
Attorneys for the defendant appealed this verdict calling it “excessive.” Defendants also claimed that the trial judge made several other “errors,” and requested that the jury’s verdict be overturned.
After consideration of the several alleged errors by the trial court, the Georgia Appellate Court found that the trial was valid and that the jury’s verdict was not excessive.
The Price Tag on Injuries and Life
Georgia law doesn’t use a yard-stick of any kind to determine how much any life or livelihood is worth. It doesn’t put a price tag on the kind of agony that keeps a human being from enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Nor does the law seek to second-guess what it called “the enlightened conscience of a fair and impartial jury.”
If you have been injured by the reckless negligence of others, you too may be able to recover something of what you’ve lost. Our legal system is structured to make sure that when careless others cause harm, there are consequences.
But, like seat belts, the judicial system only works if you use it. Before you give up your right to recover from an injury, talk to the legal team at The Millar Law Firm. As personal injury specialists, we will review the facts of your case and help you to determine whether or not you can recover in court. Call or email us today.