Car crash settlement during trial
Attorney: John N. Demas; Clients: Ruth M. & her 2 children; County: Los Angeles—North Valley District
Attorney John Demas represented Ruth M. and her 2 daughters, the surviving family of decedent Tom M. Tom was on his first week of work as a truck driver and lived in the Sacramento area. A few weeks before the accident, he had graduated from truck driving school and had obtained his commercial driver’s license. He was embarking on a new career after having been unemployed for a couple of years. Tom had a young family and was excited about beginning his new career in the trucking industry.
As soon as he was hired by a trucking company, he was assigned a route which would take him to the Los Angeles area 2-3 times per week. On one of his trips to Los Angeles, Tom was on his way home and had an issue with his load on his truck. He pulled over to an area called the “gore point”—the “V” shaped area between the far right lane of the freeway and the exit. While Tom was adjusting his load, a big-rig tractor trailer was travelling in the slow lane. For unknown reasons, the driver of the big-rig driver swerved out of his lane and struck Tom’s truck, striking Tom and killing him. The defendant trucking company and the defendant driver claimed that Tom was actually in the roadway and standing in the slow lane. They claimed that Tom was responsible for his own death, because defendant only swerved to avoid striking Tom directly in the slow lane.
The case was litigated vigorously. John took a number of depositions in the case, including the training and safety directors’ of the defendant’s trucking company, revealing a lack of adequate training and supervision. In addition, John retained a top-notch accident-reconstruction expert. The defendants refused to offer any money throughout the pendency of the case. On the first day of trial, the defendants began engaging in settlement discussions, and the case resolved for $1,500,000--a significant amount in light of the difficult liability issues in the case.
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