Plaintiff was the mother of a 22-year-old blue collar worker. The decedent and his friend got very drunk and decided to drive a truck provided to defendant by his employer to get more beer. A vehicle following behind reported that both plaintiff and his friend were acting crazy while they were driving, hanging out of the windows yelling things at passersby. The driver of the truck lost control of the vehicle and plowed into a telephone pole instantly killing both the driver and the passenger, who were not wearing seatbelts.
The driver’s company had a $300,000 insurance policy on the vehicle but the company and its insurance company claimed that neither should be responsible to pay plaintiff’s damages for the accident because the driver was not in the course and scope of his work when the accident happened. Another attorney handled the case and there was no offer.
The law offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, was retained and after a thorough investigation, the firm was able to piece together the events that led up to the crash and establish a credible claim that at least part of defendant’s journey was work related and that plaintiff and defendant were heading home after making a delivery, although they became quite distracted along the way.
The insurance company then took the position that the accident was at least 50% the passenger’s fault since plaintiff and defendant were both drunk and the passenger’s erratic behavior would have distracted the driver. The passenger was survived only by his mother with whom he had a close relationship, although the insurance company attempted to disprove this by investigating witnesses who said that mother and son “fought all the time.” The law firm was able to point out that fighting and loving are evidence of a close relationship and that the mother deeply felt the loss. The case then settled for the insurance policy limits.
RESULT: Settlement on behalf of plaintiff of $300,000