This personal injury case started when a person who was fleeing police in Nags Head, North Carolina (NC), lost control of the car they were driving and crashed into our client’s vehicle. The man we advised and represented had just exited a shopping center and was traveling north toward S. Croatan Highway when the southbound car went out of control and crossed into his lane.
The at-fault driver had been leading police on a high-speed chase during the middle of a sunny weekday morning. Following the collision, multiple charges were filed against the person, including driving while impaired (DWI).
Our client was transported from the scene of the crash to Outer Banks Hospital with serious injuries. The injuries to the man’s foot and ankle were most severe, but an orthopedist initially recommended conservative treatment.
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The same orthopedist later recommended surgical repairs because our client continued experiencing persistent pain and trouble walking. Circumstances caused our client to put off the surgeries, but the orthopedist prepared a detailed report that listed each of the recommended procedures and their estimated costs.
Key Legal Strategy
Our North Carolina personal injury law firm worked with the crash victim to file insurance claims against the at-fault driver and the owner of the car the person was driving as they fled from police. We could do this because evidence obtained from the official investigation done by law enforcement showed that the car had been borrowed from a relative.
When our initial attempts to negotiate a settlement failed, we filed a civil lawsuit that included a claim for punitive damages. Under North Carolina law, “Punitive damages may be awarded … to punish a defendant for egregiously wrongful acts and to deter the defendant and others from committing similar wrongful acts.” DWI is listed as one of the acts that justify a claim for punitive damages.
We relied on the report prepared by the orthopedist to substantiate claims for economic damages that included money to pay for the recommended foot and ankle surgeries. A complication arose when the driver named as the defendant/respondent to the lawsuit died before a trial could be scheduled. The person passed away in Maryland, so our law firm worked with an attorney based in that state to create an estate that could be substituted as a defendant.
Upon realizing that the injured man and our personal injury lawyer were serious about going through with the lawsuit, insurance claims adjusters reopened settlement negotiations. These renewed discussions yielded an offer our client could accept as fair, and we were able to resolve all claims amicably without going to court.
Case: A. Smith v Fessler et al
Court: Dare County Superior Court
Firm Attorney: Randy Appleton Staff: B. Wyatt