Pedestrian accidents are always difficult for a number of reasons. First, they involve significant injuries and a lot of medical treatment. Second, the driver of the car almost always blames the pedestrian. It is notable when a jury awards a significant verdict to a pedestrian. That is exactly what happened in this case.
Farmville Pedestrian Accident
Our client was a pedestrian walking across Main Street in Farmville, Virginia. The Defendant failed to yield to her in the crosswalk.
The injured pedestrian was a freshman at Longwood at the time. The Defendant quite literally drove through her.
Our Client’s Injuries
Our client was lucky that she only suffered an ACL and MCL tear. Even though she had an extensive surgery, her medical expenses were only $47,000.00. This is fairly low for pedestrian accidents. She only had 7 months of treatment which included the surgery and physical therapy. Her physical therapy was spotty. Four months after she was hit and two months after surgery, she started telling her doctor and physical therapist that she had 0 out of 10 pain.
We attempted a global settlement after identifying a liability insurance policy for $100,000 and two UIM policies adding up to $200,000. The UIM policies receive an offset for the liability policy. That means there was $100,000 available from the liability policy and $100,000 available from the UIM policy.
We settled with the liability carrier (Progressive) early on for policy limits of 100,000. The UIM carrier (State Farm) offered $25,000 of the $100,000 coverage available early on. We filed suit in the Circuit Court for Prince Edward County. The judge required a judicial settlement conference. State Farm came to the mediation and all they had to offer was the same $25,000 that was previously offered. It was a short mediation. And, they never made another offer.
About a month prior to trial, opposing counsel admitted liability for the pedestrian accident. He presented no evidence at trial. We had six witnesses including our expert. Osterbind Law attorney Hannah Bowie also called the defendant as an adverse witness. Opposing counsel asked less than 10 questions on cross-examination over the course of the trial.
As with all trials, jury selection was critical. We were not excited about the jury pool from the get-go, but we were proven wrong. It’s important that we do our homework on people, but we learned that we need to release our judgments when jurors say things that may be contrary to what we originally thought about them. The jury we picked included a man that was old friends with two of the defendant’s family members, a man that had been a defendant in a personal injury case and who said he had a difficult time quantifying pain and suffering, and a bank manager. Hannah was able to get the jury pool talking. At one point, they were responding to what each other were saying.
Our witnesses were excellent. Each brought a different dynamic and different perspective to issue of damages. Our client was stoic. She did the best she could, but talking about her injuries and life after was hard for her.
In closing, opposing counsel objected to Hannah saying the defendant had not taken responsibility for the incident even though liability had been admitted. The judge wrongfully shut her down pretty quick. From our perspective, the defendant accepts responsibility when he or she makes the plaintiff whole.
Opposing counsel hammered that the jury needed to be fair to the defendant. In rebuttal, Hannah asked them to read the instructions carefully because they won’t find an instruction that says to be fair to the defendant. After the trial, Hannah spoke with a juror who said this clarification greatly impacted the damages discussion. Hannah asked the jury for a damages award of a little over $372,000.00.
After an hour of deliberations, the jury came back with an award of $260,000.00 with interest from the date of pedestrian accident.
Hannah said, “Overall this was a fun trial. It was a team effort for sure.”
The Virginia State Bar requires that we give a disclaimer whenever we talk about case results. As we are sure you already know, the case result described above must be read in context with the unique facts of this particular case. Each case result depends upon a variety of factors unique to each case, which is why we describe those facts in detail. To be clear, this case result does not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyers at Osterbind Law, PLLC.