A jury of 12 deliberated for 12 hours before returning to the courtroom with a favorable verdict for the plaintiffs, a husband and wife from Flowery Branch, Georgia who were the unfortunate victims of a horrendous truck accident. After almost three years and countless hours of preparation, the Parks received an award in the amount of $3.2 million – but only after allegedly faulty brakes on the Defendant driver’s truck forever changed their lives. During the summer of 2011, the Parks were traversing I-85 when they noticed a HERO truck partially blocking the roadway. Ever-cautious, they stopped for the truck, as did another driver in front of them. However, a third vehicle, a truck owned by Atlanta Dealer Trades, failed to stop when the driver, Jessie Arnold, unsuccessfully applied the brakes. He proceeded to plow into the Parks’ car from behind, “pushing their car 60 feet ahead and into another vehicle,” according to the Daily Report.
The truck then proceeded to strike the car that had been in front of the Parks’ car as well as the HERO vehicle, before finally coming to a rest on the highway. The truck had been recently purchased from another company, JCF Autotransport, Inc., and Atlanta Dealer Trades accordingly sought to have some degree of fault apportioned to that second company due to their alleged failure to maintain the truck’s brakes. The Plaintiffs, however, dropped the second company as a defendant after their investigative efforts turned up no evidence of faulty brakes and the DeKalb County Court subsequently declined to allow the company to be included on the verdict form. Defendants plan to file an appeal and challenge both the Parks’ claims for damages and the apportionment issue.
In total, the Parks accrued $200,000 and $154,173 in medical bills, respectively, with the need for additional medical services anticipated in the future. Damages requested included those amounts as well as attorney’s fees, and estimated lost wages for six months (in the amount of $5,000 per month). All claims for punitive damages were dropped once it became clear that the jury was struggling to justify such a move. Once they were taken off of the table, the jury rendered the remainder of its verdict with relative ease.
Despite the seeming finality of the verdict, however, the Daily Report accurately speculates that collecting on the jury award will prove to be an uphill battle, if, in fact, the verdict stands following the Defendant’s appeal. The Defendant plans to appeal because it takes issue with a myriad of things, including the fact that Mr. Parks underwent a surgery only a few weeks before the trial and the Plaintiffs’ failed to supply opposing counsel with detailed medical bills until the second amended complaint had been filed. According to the Daily Report, there is also the matter of the Defendant’s $1 million insurance policy – all of the coverage may not have been available due to “confidential settlements with other parties hit in the same crash.”
In addition to these things, skilled Atlanta truck accident attorneys are able to easily suss out several additional things based upon the facts in this case. For one, the nature of the plaintiffs’ injuries are indicative of just how dangerous a trucking accident can be for motorists. The severe injuries that often result make it imperative that potential plaintiffs immediately seek medical treatment. Although many people are reluctant to do so, primarily due to the fear of incurring associated costs, treating and paying for your injuries on the front-end with few treatment gaps has repeatedly been more beneficial overall in terms of inciting an insurance company to settle a case. Medical records often serve as a better “witness” to an accident’s impact – and one that both insurance adjusters and jury members alike are inclined to trust.
Furthermore, and as demonstrated by the debate regarding who should have been added as a defendant in the Parks’ case and whether fault could be apportioned to a non-party, it is fairly clear that truck accident claims can quickly become extremely complex. For this reason, and along with recommendations to seek treatment as soon as possible, personal injury lawyers also suggest that motorists quickly consult an experienced attorney when involved in a truck crash. When it comes to trucking accidents, or indeed car accidents of any kind, time is of the essence – not only in regards to treatment but also when it comes to assessing available coverage, especially when there are multiple parties involved.