Jury Returns Verdict of $16.5 Million Despite Lack of Evidence of Lost Earnings
At Montlick and Associates, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers often handle personal injury cases where damages are more difficult to prove because the injury victim is a child with no earning history, or a senior who is at or near retirement age. In other cases, the task of proving damages can be complicated because the trucking accident victim's medical bills are fairly limited. The prospect of obtaining a full recovery under such circumstances often turns on effective advocacy in establishing non-economic forms of damages like pain and suffering and loss of consortium, or some permanent disability or losee that is not reflected simply by the amount of the medical bills. These types of damages are more subjective, so they cannot simply be proven by submitting bills the way medical expenses and lost wages can be documented.
A recent logging truck accident demonstrates that an effective trial lawyer can still obtain a sizeable jury verdict even when there is no evidence of a significant amount of lost earnings. A Sandersville jury returned a verdict in the amount of $16.5 million in favor of an injured attorney who was 72 at the time of the jury award. The verdict was rather unique because it was made up entirely of "general damages" according to the Daily Report. Because of the injured attorney's age, the plaintiff focused on "loss of the capacity to labor" rather than "lost earnings."
The logging truck accident victim suffered broken vertebrae in his back and neck along with shoulders separated from his collarbone. He suffers from ongoing shoulder spasms and damage to his facial nerves. The focus of the evidence presented to establish the damage suffered by the plaintiff focused on how his injuries impacted his ability to practice law and other aspects of his life. He testified at trial that he suffers from exhaustion, sleeplessness and pain from his injuries. He also had to curtail his litigation practice and focus on things he could do with a paralegal in the office.
Much of the evidence presented at trial focused on the unique nature of the plaintiff's rural law practice. His law practice is based in Thomson, but he traveled to a dozen surrounding counties handling cases in a range of disciplines as part of a general practice. While this approach made his rural practice financially viable, the attorney lacked the strength to cope with the grueling routine of handling matters in a multitude of courts spread out throughout the geographic area which was illustrated by referencing a map of the relevant court locations.
The Atlanta trucking attorney for the plaintiff also introduced testimony from a retired judge who returned to practice after forty years on the bench. The testimony was offered to support the contention that the plaintiff's injuries rather than his age limited his ability to maintain a lucrative law practice.
Support for the loss of consortium damage claim was based on the impact on the plaintiff's marital relationship with his much younger wife. Because of the age difference between the couple, the plaintiff's injuries had a particularly significant impact on his marital partner. The jury awarded $1.5 million of the $16.5 million trucking verdict to the plaintiff's wife for her personal loss suffered as a result of her husband's accident.
This case demonstrates the impact of effective legal representation in gathering and presenting evidence to obtain the fullest financial recovery. When a plaintiff is a young child or retiree or medical expenses are limited, the quality of legal representation can have an especially significant impact on intangible forms of damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium and emotional distress.
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