Willful Recklessness. Drunk Driving Crash results in $1.2 Million Jury Verdict

Whether you are a florist or a worker at an auto repair shop, you need certain physical capacities to do your work well. What if someone took those capacities away from you? How much is the physical ability to earn a living worth? This is what a jury in Fulton County, Georgia had to say about it.

A restaurant server in her mid-40s had been traveling on Bolton Road in Northwest Atlanta. She was stopped at a traffic light at Marietta Boulevard when her Mercedes when a Nissan Sentra sedan crashed head-on into her.

The driver of the Sentra had been playing pool and drinking with friends prior to driving.

The woman was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

The force of the collision caused multiple fractures to the woman’s spine. She had fractures of cervical vertebrae C2, and C6. She also endured herniated discs between vertebrae C5 and C6 as well as between C6 and C7. Her shoulder was injured including a tear to her Rotator Cuff.

Since the time of the accident she has been under the treatment of an orthopedic surgeon. The treatment course has been a conservative one relying upon physical therapy, massage, exercise, as well as epidural injections to both her shoulder and her injured neck. Her physicians recommend that the plaintiff undergo spinal surgery to fuse the cervical bones and the removal of the herniated discs – called a discectomy. She continues to require pain medication, but has declined the recommended surgeries.

The plaintiff sued the driver of the Sentra, alleging that he was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. Additionally, she sued the driver’s father who owned the car, alleging that he was negligent in entrusting his son to drive the Nissan. (The father was voluntarily dismissed from the action.)

The suit was filed in Fulton County State Court and was tried to a Jury.

The defendant admitted liability in that he lost control of the Nissan and was, indeed, driving in the wrong lane. He disputed the degree of damages. The trial was held on the issues around the cause of the accident and the damages incurred by the plaintiff.

During the course of the two-day trial, the plaintiff’s witnesses clarified the extent to which the plaintiff’s mobility and quality of life as it would be impacted by her injuries. As a wait-staffer, the plaintiff is not able to lift heavy trays as her job requires and she has been assigned only light-duty.

The plaintiff sought $74,296 in past medical costs, plus damages for past and future pain and suffering. She argued that she was also entitled to punitive damages because the defendant’s conduct was willful and reckless.

Within a matter of hours, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her $1,196,226. They then deliberated further on the matter of punitive damages. The parties settled the case for the defendant’s insurance policy limit of $1.3 million dollars.

This Fulton County Jury clearly understood the dramatic disruptions of this woman’s life which were caused by the young driver’s irresponsible behavior. They awarded her the means to move forward in spite of the disability she now lives with because of the willful and reckless behavior of the Defendant.

When innocent people are harmed by the bad behavior of others, the law in Georgia stands in favor of the blameless. Often, though, we laypeople don’t know what our rights are or how they might be defended. For this reason, we encourage those who think they may have a cause to call or email The Millar Law Firm for a free evaluation of the facts. If your way of life has been disrupted by careless others, don’t sign your rights away before calling us.

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 of our firm or of other lawyers and law firms are not guarantees of future performance.