Ms. J was riding her bicycle in Athens, Georgia when a church van made an illegal left turn in front of her. She tried to avoid crashing into the van but couldn’t. She crashed into the rear passenger side of the van and went helmet-first into one of the windows. Her helmet shattered the glass and she suffered severe cuts to her face and neck, leaving terrible scars. Before the case went to trial, BBGA attorney Michael Ruppersburg secured a $750,000 settlement from Church Mutual Insurance Company, which was more than 25 times her medical bills.


Ms. J was riding her bicycle down Dougherty Street and was heading towards Prince Avenue. A church van was driving the opposite direction on Dougherty Street and got into the turn lane to make a left turn. The driver apparently didn’t see Ms. J coming and began making the turn, driving the van directly into the path of Ms. J. Ms. J slammed on her brakes and swerved to the left to try to avoid the van, but wasn’t able to do so.

She crashed into the rear passenger side of the van and went helmet-first into one of the passenger-side windows, breaking the window and suffering terrible cuts to her face and neck. She was rushed to the hospital and had surgery to close her wounds, which required 36 stitches to close.

Ms. J’s wounds have healed, but have left very visible scars on her face and neck that cannot be covered up with makeup, concealer or clothing. She is now very self-conscious about her appearance and her scars, and has to deal with other people staring at her or doing double takes when she’s out in public. Several times, she’s had children look at her and ask their parents what happened; one person rudely asked whether she had tried to kill herself. She’s consulted with several plastic surgeons who have told her that while scar revision surgery will reduce the appearance of the scars, they are never going away.


The van that caused the wreck was owned by a local church and being driven by one of the church members. The church’s insurance company refused to make a fair settlement offer, so we filed suit and began preparing the case for trial. After several months of litigation, we resolved the case for $750,000.


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