BBGA car accident attorney Michael Ruppersburg settled a case with State Farm for $70,000 for a woman who injured her neck and back in an accident caused by a hit-and-run drunk driver. The settlement is notable because it was for over five times our client’s medical bills in a very conservative North Georgia county, which not known for large jury verdicts and settlements.
Ms. E was driving home from work one evening on Highway 369 in Cumming, Georgia. A car had been following her for some distance and when there was a break in oncoming traffic, tried to pass her on the left. The car struck Ms. E’s car in the left rear, causing her to lose control and drive off the road. Here’s a picture of the damage to her car:
The driver that hit Ms. E fled the scene of the accident but another car managed to take down the license plate and report it to 911. The police spoke with the owner of the car and after an investigation, they were able to identify the driver as the boyfriend of the owner’s daughter — and even found the car hidden in woods near his house. The police arrested him for hit and run and reckless driving.
FIRM INVESTIGATION REVEALS DEFENDANT WAS DUI
The wreck happened fairly late at night and we were suspicious that the driver fled the scene because he was drunk or under the influence. As part of our investigation, we requested all the 911 calls from the accident. Several callers reported that the driver was swerving all over the road, and the caller who followed him after the wreck to get his license plate told 911 that he was “obviously drunk” because he was “all over the road.” The caller even reported that she had spoken with the driver when he had stopped at a nearby gas station to check the damage to his car and that he was “messed up.”
Ms. E was shaken up after the accident but didn’t think she was hurt and went home and went to bed. When she woke up the next morning, she was suffering severe neck and back pain and went to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with cervical and lumbar strains and sprains. ER doctors referred her to an orthopedist, who ordered an MRI that showed a bulging disc in her cervical spine along with cervical and lumbar spondylosis. The orthopedist diagnosed her with a flare-up of the spondylosis caused by the wreck and ordered physical therapy and an epidural steroid injection. After several months of treatment, Ms. E’s neck and back pain finally went away. All told, her medical bills came to a little more than $13,000.
We sent State Farm a demand outlining the facts of the wreck and included the 911 calls from the callers who said that the driver was “obviously drunk” and “messed up.” We told State Farm that while we knew the case was in a conservative county, the jury was going to award a higher verdict than usual because the driver caused an accident while DUI and also fled the scene and that we were going to ask the jury to award punitive damages for DUI and hit-and-run as well. After several rounds of negotiations, Ms. E agreed to settle her case for $70,000.