Laura E. was an 18 year-old girl when she was involved in a major head-on collision in the city of San Luis Obispo. The driver of the other vehicle was killed. Laura suffered an ankle-fracture dislocation as well as the trauma of being involved in a near-fatal accident and witnessing the death of the other driver. Laura retained James R. Murphy, Jr. to represent her in the case.
After a year of litigation, the case was mediated, a process by which the parties attempt to settle a case. The insurance carrier offered $30,000.00. The offer was categorically rejected and the case was set for trial.
As the trial date approached, the Defendants raised the offer to $60,000.00 and then made a final offer of $250,000.00. At the request of the client, Jim countered with $350,000.00. The defendant would not budge. The case was tried to a San Luis Obispo jury in March, 2008. The jury returned a verdict of $1,680,325.59. Because the Plaintiff was entitled to costs and interests on Plaintiff’s previous offer to settle for $1,250,000.00, the total judgment increased to $1,950,222.76. Interestingly, the Defendant felt the case had limited value because Laura had allowed her auto insurance to lapse on the date of the accident. Under California law, a person whose insurance has lapsed is not entitled to general damages for pain and suffering. In response, Jim focused the case on the need for future medical care based upon the severity of the injury to the ankle. The entire verdict reflected economic damages only and did not contain any general damages, making the verdict all the more remarkable.
The total insurance in effect for the Defendant driver was $1,250,000.00. The insurance carrier has paid that amount plus costs and interest for a total to date of $1,450,000.00. Jim has filed a bad faith suit against the insurance carrier for the insurance carrier’s breach of its duties to its own insured, the young lady who died in the accident. We will update the website with the final outcome of that litigation.
Testimonial by Laura E.
“Jim worked incredibly hard for me. He had faith in me and never allowed the hostile attitude of the insurance company to keep him from fighting for my rights. I would have settled the case for $350,000.00 had the carrier offered it, even though Jim believed the case was worth a lot more. Because I did not have auto insurance, I was afraid of not receiving enough of a recovery to help me with my future. The first portion of the settlement has provided me enough money to buy two homes and achieve some of the goals I have set for myself. Jim’s trial team does not leave a single detail to chance – they work incredibly hard on behalf of their clients. As a client of Jim’s for over four years, I have watched not just how hard he worked for me, but how hard he works for everyone who comes under his care as an attorney.”
Update: The bad faith lawsuit against the carrier settled for $500,000.00 after brutal and aggressive litigation by the James R. Murphy, Jr., A Law Corporation.