Updated January 31, 2014: After a year of investigation, we found two additional insurance policies with a total of $125,000 in insurance that covered the driver who caused the accident. One was a $100,000 GEICO insurance policy and the other was a $25,000 Alfa Insurance policy. GEICO and Alfa both agreed to pay their policy limits, bringing the total settlement amount to $1,125,000.
We settled a case for the wrongful death of a Georgia woman killed in a car wreck for $1 million. The settlement was for the entire amount of the at-fault driver’s Auto-Owners insurance policy.
Here’s what our clients had to say on Avvo about our work on their behalf:
Review by: A Client (Ms. C)
Reviewing: Michael Ruppersburg’s Legal Services
Date published: 2-15-2013
Rating: ★★★★★5 / 5 stars
Under Georgia’s wrongful death law, the victim’s family is entitled to recover the “full value of the life” of the deceased. One element of the “full value of the life” is the lost wages and earnings that the deceased would have made if they hadn’t been killed. This case demonstrates how future lost wage damages are used in wrongful death cases, and how lawyers prove those damages.
Ms. C was driving to work one evening on a two lane road not far from her house. A car driving the opposite direction was speeding and drove slightly off the right side of the road. The driver over-corrected, causing him to lose control and cross into the opposite lane. He struck Ms. C’s car head-on going at least the 45 mph speed limit. The collision killed Ms. C on impact, pushing her car back over 50 feet from the point of impact, and spinning it around so it was facing almost the opposite direction.
Ms. C was 50-years-old and worked as a manager for a local Fortune 500 company. Though she had only a high school education, she’d worked at the company for 17 years and steadily moved up in its ranks. She’d taken continuing education classes in leadership and management skills that the company offered, and had been promoted to manager several years before. She was making a very good salary, had a bright future with the company, and would have likely gotten raises as she continued working with it.
So, how did we prove Ms. C’s future lost wages and earnings? First, we needed evidence of her earnings and future with the company. We obtained Ms. C’s last five years of tax returns and W2s from her employer. We also obtained her personnel file, which was full of good reviews. Second, we needed an expert witness who could analyze Ms. C’s future lost earnings and testify about them. We retained a retired university professor who taught economics for over 30 years as an economist expert witness. He determined that, according to actuarial statistics, Ms. C would have worked another 13 years. Assuming that Ms. C would have continued earning the same salary and factoring in inflation, he calculated that the present value of Ms. C’s future lost wages was over $1.3 million.
We then sent a settlement demand to Auto-Owners outlining how the police and our investigation found the other driver was at fault for the wreck. We used the economist’s report to show that Ms. C’s future lost wages – which are just one element of damages in a wrongful death claim – were more than their driver’s $1 million insurance policy. We gave Auto-Owners a month to respond and told it that if it did not accept our demand, we would file suit and let a jury determine the value of Ms. C’s life. Auto-Owners accepted our demand, proving some much-needed financial security for Ms. C’s family.