Today, a Washington jury returned a trial verdict of $5.85 million to a Seattle man injured in a head-on collision.
The plaintiff was driving when the sixteen-year-old defendant came flying over the crest of a hill in an attempt to "get air." The defendant's vehicle went out of control, crossed into the plaintiff's lane, and the two vehicles collided at high speed. The plaintiff suffered a fractured leg, various contusions, and a brain injury which caused him to remain in a coma for several days following the accident. The seriousness of the plaintiff’s brain injury prevented him from working normally.
The plaintiff originally hired Seattle lawyer Ed Harper. Harper investigated the plaintiff's accident, injuries, medical condition, and treatment. He prepared the case, including expert evaluations of future economic losses.
PEMCO insured the defendant's vehicle with a policy limit of $1.25 million. The plaintiff's losses were significantly greater than this amount. However, the plaintiff did not want to go after the defendant and his parents personally or force them into bankruptcy. Therefore, at mediation Harper demanded the $1.25 million policy limit to settle the claim. PEMCO refused, saying that they would "never pay policy limits on this claim." The defendants asked what would happen to them if an excess verdict were awarded? PEMCO assured them that PEMCO would pay "any amount awarded." PEMCO offered nothing and the case was scheduled for trial.
Recognizing that PEMCO's assurance to the defendant and his parents meant that there was no cap on potential recovery, Harper contacted Inner Circle member, Rick Friedman of Friedman Rubin as trial counsel for the case.
Facing Friedman at trial caused PEMCO to re-evaluate its settlement position. Having previously rejected the plaintiff's $1.25 million demand at mediation, PEMCO offered $2 million. As the trial proceeded, PEMCO upped its offer to $2.5 million. By this time, however, it was too late to do what the insurance company should have done before litigation was necessary. The straightforward evidence from the plaintiff's doctors, family, and friends was powerful and unassailable.
Following a two-and-a-half-week trial, the jury returned a jury verdict of $5.86 million after less than six hours of deliberation. It is the latest in a string of multi-million-dollar verdicts for Friedman, who has totaled over $400 million already during his career as a trial lawyer.
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