The roads were wet and the skies grey after a midday summer rain on June 6, 2017. “GS,” an 85-year-old man from Loganville, Georgia, was carefully driving east on Georgia State Route 10 in his 2013 Ford Explorer. GS proceeded to cross the intersection of GA-10 and Teresa Lane when he was suddenly struck in the driver’s side door by a huge Dodge Ram pick-up attempting to turn left onto Teresa Lane.
The 28-year old at-fault driver (“AFD”) was operating a company-owned Dodge 3500 pick-up truck when he inexplicably turned left directly into GS’s vehicle. The force of impact was so great that it pushed GS’s vehicle across multiple lanes of traffic, causing the back of his vehicle to collide with a van. A nearby witness immediately called 911.
At the scene, the AFD tried to tell witnesses that he was backing up when GS struck him. Bethany would prove otherwise.
The Loganville Police Department and Fire Station were the first to arrive at the scene of the crash. The impact of the collision thrust GS into the steering wheel and door, causing serious injuries to his chest and tearing his rotator cuff in his shoulder. GS was immediately transported by ambulance to Eastside Medical Center for treatment.
GS went to physical therapy for pain management and to improve the range of motion in his right arm and shoulder. He continued to suffer for months, unable to lift his arm or even carry light objects without it hurting. He tried injections, but they did not help. An MRI confirmed a massive rotator cuff tear in his shoulder. Unfortunately, GS could not have surgery to repair it because of his age and heart condition. His treating doctor testified GS’s injury was permanent and disabling and that his prognosis was poor. His doctor believed that it was likely that the injury would eventually develop into pseudo-paralysis, and GS eventually would not be able to move his shoulder at all.
When Attorney Bethany Schneider was contacted about this case, the first thing she did was go out to visit GS in person; his wellbeing was her first concern. Bethany enjoyed getting to know GS, seeing his living environment and learning more about his life. She was able to see first-hand the awful effect GS’s injury had had on him. Before the collision, GS had always been a fully independent person. He loved wood-working and building bird houses that he would sell in a local hardware store. His favorite time was spent working on building a dock with his son and grandson. But after the collision, the pain in his shoulder made both much more difficult. He had to learn how to do everything with the help of his left hand.
While the AFD admitted some fault for the accident, he mostly blamed GS for the collision. He claimed to the police, his employer and in his deposition under oath that he was reversing at the time of the collision and that GS actually struck him.
The AFD contended that it was GS’s responsibility to come to a stop for him in the middle of traffic (even when GS had the right of way).
When asked about the impact of the collision, the AFD stated that the collision was not severe. He claimed the vehicles simply “brushed” against each other. However, the AFD’s deposition testimony and images of GS’s vehicle tell two different stories (see this portion of the redacted testimony and photographs of the vehicles in Figures 1 and 2 below).
Bethany knew the AFD was lying. His lies about reversing at the time of the collision just did not make sense when looking at the property damage that showed AFD turned directly into GS’s vehicle. In order to prove AFD was lying, Bethany hired an accident reconstructionist and took the depositions of an eyewitness to the collision (the driver of the 3rd vehicle involved in the wreck) and the police officer who investigated the collision. Bethany also obtained the dash cam video from the police who investigated the wreck that showed the placement of the vehicles immediately following the wreck and showed AFD’s wheel turned as though he was accelerating forward.
The accident reconstructionist got access to AFD’s truck and downloaded the truck’s “black box,” which records all of the vehicle’s data when the airbags deploy. Through the black box data, the reconstructionist was able to prove that AFD was actually accelerating forward and not reversing as he had previously stated.
The deposition testimony of “ER”, the third driver who was impacted by the collision, was also helpful in proving the AFD’s negligence. ER stated that seconds before the collision, he witnessed the AFD distracted and looking at his cell phone, and then all of the sudden, without warning or reason, AFD pulled forward directly into GS. The police officer testified that, after investigating the scene, GS was 0% at fault for the collision.
Bethany also deposed the corporate representative for the company that AFD worked for and who was responsible for AFD’s negligence in causing the collision. During that deposition, the company backed up AFD’s story about GS being partly at fault for the collision. But, importantly, Bethany uncovered that the company had no safety policies or procedures for their employees driving company vehicles. The company had actually gotten in trouble twice in the last year before the collision for their employees and vehicles being in violation of federal laws. The company also had no way of enforcing rules about employees using their cell phones while driving. Because of this testimony, Bethany filed a punitive damages claim against the company for them demonstrating an entire lack of care for the safety of other drivers’ on the roadways.
GS had only around $3,300 to pay back in medical expenses. Prior to Bethany’s involvement in the case, AFD’s insurance company offered $7,500 to resolve GS’s claims against him and the company. Bethany insisted that based on the lies and permanent, debilitating injuries to her client, this was a six-figure case, and she was ready to head to the courtroom and try the case.
After the deposition of the treating doctor, the defense got scared and realized that with the medical evidence of the permanency of GS’s injuries, a jury could really hammer them. We were able to negotiate to get to $110,000 to give GS closure to the whole ordeal.
Although GS still lives with moderate pain in his right shoulder, he’s been able to manage it and move forward. GS continues to spend time with his son and his family in the Loganville area. He is healing, hopeful, and pleased with his settlement check and the representation he received from Bethany.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle collision, contact personal injury lawyer Bethany Schneider for a free consultation. At Schneider Law, P.C., while we cannot guarantee this type of outcome for every case, we work tirelessly and turn over every stone until we find out the truth for our client. We advocate for our clients and for the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Call Bethany directly at (404) 800-3060 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your free consultation today.