P.I. Pulse: a Settlement and an Award: a deadly test-drive and brain-damaging bar fight



When trying a personal injury case, we have one goal in mind: winning the case for you so that you can be compensated for your injuries. That sort of victory might come about in different ways. More often than not, in personal injury cases, there is a settlement between the plaintiff and defendant prior to trial. In these cases, the issue is resolved before it ever goes to court, before witnesses are called, before it ever has to be decided by a jury. When a case does go to trial, the fate of the trial, while it is overseen by a judge, actually resides with the members of the jury, unbiased “peers” of those involved in the trial. In these cases, as plaintiff attorneys representing injured parties, what we hope for is a jury that will recognize the injuries of the plaintiff as being the result of negligence of the defendant, and thus a jury that will issue a monetary award to the plaintiff against the defendant. In this blog, we are going to outline a case that ended in a pre-trial settlement and a case that went to court and ended in a jury award in favor of the injured plaintiff.

Personal Injury Law

We will begin with the case that was settled before it went to court. Test-driving a car is supposed to be a fun, enjoyable experience. However, for one Philadelphia-area family, it was anything but that. Two and a half years ago, a man took his son to a dealership to test drive a car. The son, after driving the vehicle off the lot, switched seats with the car salesman, who then, with the son’s father in the backseat and the son next in the passenger’s seat, according to the complaint filed by the plaintiffs, drove the car at speeds of 100 mph. Perhaps it was to demonstrate the ability of the car, perhaps it was to show the prospective customers a good time; whatever the reason, it did not turn out well.

A mulch truck dangerously entered the road on which the car salesman and customers were driving, causing the car salesman to swerve out of the way, ejecting from the vehicle the father, who later died. There’s another part of the story that’s important, in addition to the negligent operation of the mulch truck that caused the car salesman to swerve: the car salesman was intoxicated! In addition, he had a history of careless driving, excessive speeding, and driving under the influence (for which he previously served prison time). In this respect, the plaintiffs – the family of the deceased man – claimed negligence on the part of the dealership for allowing such a known-to-be-dangerous driver behind the wheel of a test-drive vehicle with customers. The case settled before it went to court, as described above, for a total of $4.3 million, with $1.3 million coming from the insurance company of the dealership and $3 million coming from the mulch company whose truck caused the car salesman to swerve.

Now, let’s turn to the case that went to trial. A 43-year-old California man who works as a house painter received a jury award of $58 million after sustaining damages from a bar fight. No, this bar fight was not just a minor tussle following an argument over a minor issue. The man interceded in a fight between a bartender, a security guard and a family member, and then a “security guard” turned on the victim. The untrained and unlicensed security guard pummeled the victim, smashing him in the head with a baton, kicking his head, and smashing his head into pavement. The victim was so badly injured that when he arrived at the hospital, part of his skull was already missing. His lawyer likened his brain to a pie, with 25% gone. The man can’t speak and required 24-hour care.

In California, only 9 of 12 jurors have to agree for their to be a verdict, but in this horrible case, there was a unanimous decision against the security company whose employee practically took the victim’s life from him – while he is still technically living, he is injured beyond the point of being able to speak or properly function.The security company will, of course, appeal the verdict and may settle with the plaintiff before any of the award money is paid out. Nevertheless, this unfortunate victim will see justice paid to him for the enormous damages he has suffered.

For information on either of these two types of cases, or personal injury cases in general, please contact us for a free consultation at 561-266-9191 or email us at daronberg@build.simple.biz.

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