Lenny and Jeff help secure a future for their client, who was rear-ended by a speeding driver and sustained a traumatic brain injury
From time to time, I write about recent trial verdicts and injury settlements that our attorneys secure for our clients, just as I did last week regarding Kevin Seiferheld’s million-dollar settlement for a person injured by a distracted driver. When I write of these awards, it’s because I believe they’re a true reflection of how much we care, and how hard we will fight on behalf of our clients and their families, especially when defense attorneys and insurance adjusters claim injuries are not serious (or even present, as with most traumatic brain injuries!); and when their No Fault insurance benefits are wrongfully denied or cut off and they’re facing extensive medical bills with no way to pay for them.
And unlike a lot of the attorney advertising we see today, especially in the world of Michigan personal injury law, it’s never our intention to boast about the million-dollar verdicts and settlements our attorneys have secured on behalf of our injured clients. There’s a ridiculous arms race of claiming ever more supposed settlement amounts made by about six or seven different law firms we see today in Metro Detroit. Besides being clearly false, I hope readers of this auto law blog quickly realize that when I write about an accident settlement or verdict, it’s to make a point – whether it’s about the dangers of distracted driving, the way many trucks are (not) being maintained or operated on our roads today and how people are losing their lives because of this, very sick and medically unfit truck drivers who cause terrible wrecks and who should never be on our roads, or the various ways auto insurance companies will delay, deny, and defend legitimate and serious car accident injury cases.
I also write about these verdicts and settlements to illustrate the incredible battles our attorneys undertake for our clients.
Michigan Auto Law is different from most of the law firms in Metro Detroit that you see out there. We only help the people who are seriously injured in car and truck accidents. We’re not a mill. We don’t advertise so we can keep our caseloads down and so our attorneys can spend more time on the people we’re entrusted with helping. That, more than anything, is why Attorney at Law Magazine has said we’re “…Listed for 15 consecutive years with the top reported settlements and verdicts in Michigan… This remarkable record eclipses every other law firm in Michigan…”
You can’t get those types of consistent top results, including some of the highest reported settlements and verdicts each year, without a lot of coffee-fueled sleepless nights spent pouring through files and hundreds of hours in preparation for trial. That is why cases settle one week before, and why there’s such a huge jump in the settlement offers our attorneys see from insurance company claims adjusters and defense attorneys just before trial.
Here are the details of the case (we’re keeping names out of this blog post to protect our client):
In August of 2014, our client, a mortgage loan specialist with a master’s degree, was the restrained front seat passenger in his compact Chevy Aveo. He and his partner were headed to their cabin in northern Michigan.
Meanwhile, the Defendant, a marketing professional, was driving his company-owned 2011 GMC Yukon SUV on his way to deliver some marketing materials to a customer in Ithaca, when he encountered rush hour traffic that was backed up from a signed construction zone on westbound U.S. 10 in Bay County. The right lane was closed ahead.
Tragically for our clients, the Defendant driver was not looking at the road ahead while driving at 75 mph (this was confirmed by data Jeff and Lenny downloaded from his airbag control module) and he crashed into the rear of the Aveo, which was stopped in traffic in the left lane. The Aveo was then propelled by the force of impact into the rear of another vehicle. Both airbags inflated, as did the airbag in the Defendant’s vehicle.
The Defendant admitted to the Bay County Sheriffs Deputy dispatched to the scene that he had been “messing with his radio,” and when he finally returned his eyes to the roadway, he “looked up and saw everyone was stopped.” He further stated, “I was looking at the radio controls and didn’t have my eyes on the road.. traffic backed up suddenly due to construction and it happened very quickly.. . didn’t see this until it was too late.”
Our client, the passenger, suffered several personal injuries, including a traumatic brain injury and a lumbar fracture.
A witness, who was a Dow Chemical Company engineer traveling directly behind the Defendant, told the responding deputy that the Defendant’s brake lights never came on before the rear-end car accident. The Defendant was appropriately given a reckless driving ticket, and admitted his sole and complete fault at deposition.
Jeff and Lenny argued that the Defendant’s employer was liable for the actions of the Defendant driver in his permissively operating the Yukon (under Michigan’s Owners Liability Act, MCL 257.401(1) as well as the Defendant driver’s recklessness, as he was driving the large vehicle in the course and scope of his employment. They showed there could be no good faith liability defense to the serious injuries and damages sustained by their client.
The biggest dispute in this case, as in almost all of the many serious rear-end car accident lawsuits our attorneys litigate, was over the value of a person’s injuries, pain and suffering.
The Defense contended our client would be able to return to work in the future and supplied experts (who are often called by the defense, most of whom have very notorious reputations – especially the so-called “independent” medical examiners) that questioned whether he truly was still injured.
Jeff and Lenny stayed, showing how our client had not recovered, how he was not employable and wasn’t able to return to any job — whether sedentary or not.
This auto accident settled for $2 million in what many lawyers believe is a more-conservative venue in Bay County, Michigan. Jeff and Lenny had taken a number of defense doctors’ depositions. They were holed up in a hotel in Bay County and prepared to go to trial and prove their client’s injuries. It never went to trial. As a result of the cross examination of the many defense doctors and experts, the defense attorneys kept increasing their offer. There was a final jump in the settlement offer one week before trial by 25%.
Here’s a nice review from our client in this case:
“I was in a car accident. A Yukon hit me from behind and I was very badly injured. I was connected with Lenny Koltonow and Jeff Feldman, as my partner has known Jeff for years. He knew Jeff would take excellent care of me and these were the guys to go to for serious injury cases. Lenny and Jeff even visited me in the hospital and at home to make things more convenient. They were very sharp and handled everything. They worked at building a very strong case for me and didn’t want me to settle for something less than what I deserved. They were very adamant about that and said they were looking out for my future. They were preparing to go to trial because they strongly believed in me and my case. The defense knew what they were up against and so made an offer that we all agreed was substantial and what I deserved. So we decided to settle. But what I liked best about these guys is they came across as very down to earth. They are long time, very successful trial attorneys with decades of experience, but they were sympathetic, empathetic and motivated me to try to get better and try to make me as good as I could be. I would recommend them because they were always there, just a phone call away for me any time, anything I needed. Not to mention they were very good to my family.”
– J.S. – Detroit