A partner at Colman Law Group, Jim took on this semi-truck versus car personal injury case three years into its four-year trek to the courtroom.
The accident narrative centered on a disputed lane change. Jim defended the driver of a long semi-truck who made a right turn at a corner.
The plaintiff, driving a small car, tried to sneak past the truck on the right. The left front of her car ultimately collided with the right side of the semi’s trailer.
Claiming the impact caused her a shoulder injury requiring a future surgery, the plaintiff submitted $23,000 in past medical bills, and at trial sought $35,000 for the future shoulder surgery. Our defense team disputed it, and offered plaintiff $13,000 as a compromise to settle the case.
Plaintiff rebuffed the offer and demanded $99,000. With no agreement in sight, the case proceeded to trial.
The plaintiff called experts—an orthopedic surgeon and an accident reconstructionist. Their orthopedist testified that plaintiff required a surgical repair to her shoulder, and that the accident was the cause of the injury.
Plaintiff’s reconstructionist said the crash was our client’s fault. As a result, plaintiff asked the jury to award $250,000.
When we called matching experts, our orthopedic surgeon disagreed with the severity of the plaintiff’s shoulder injury, finding that surgery was not required and that the minor problem was not related to the accident.
Our accident reconstructionist explained how the collision had been caused by the plaintiff.
We asked the jury to find in favor of our client and to award the plaintiff nothing.
The final factors
The case, in large part, came down to the defendant being a better witness than the plaintiff.
Performing poorly, the plaintiff made inconsistent statements and disputed the police officer’s accident report, saying he misquoted her. The officer was adamant that her account faithfully represented the story plaintiff told.
This disagreement hurt the plaintiff’s credibility.
Our client was a good witness—straightforward, honest and consistent. She was confident on the stand and the jurors noticed.
The jury came back 10 to 2 in favor of the defense, finding the plaintiff was completely at fault.
“I had confidence in our case going in,” says Jim. “But you can’t get cocky or the jury will break your heart. A trial is a risk for both sides.”