In the United States, automobile accidents are unfortunately one of the most common causes of personal injury claims. Legal claims arising from these types of accidents are governed by the law of negligence and finding who was at fault for an accident’s occurrence. A person who is found negligent when operating a vehicle may be required to pay for damages. Christopher DiGirolamo, Managing Partner at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi P.C., recently resolved a case dealing with comparative fault law and personal injury. DiGirolamo has protected the rights of victims involved in car accidents and other accidents that result in injuries for well over 20 years.
Recent client Archie Davison was injured on his way to work and after multiple surgeries and over two years of litigation, Christopher DiGirolamo was able to achieve a strong result and settlement for him. Mr. Davison’s day started like many other days – driving to work in his vehicle. He was driving in the right lane of a local highway, approaching an area where there was an entrance ramp that allows cars to enter the local highway. Specifically, the ramp allows cars to enter the left lane of travel on the local highway.
Suddenly, without warning, a car on the ramp entered the intersection without stopping. This caused a vehicle driving in the left lane directly next to Mr. Davison, to swerve to avoid the car and, in turn, struck the side of Mr. Davison’s car. This then forced him right off of the roadway. At the scene, Mr. Davison and the vehicle that collided with him blamed the merging vehicle. The merging vehicle driver admitted at the scene that she did not stop and the accident was her fault. She was issued a ticket by the investigating police officer and pled guilty to failing to stop at the stop sign and illegally entering the travel lane.
Mr. Davison unfortunately did not walk away from the accident without injuries – he suffered injuries to his neck, back and hand. He ultimately required surgery on his thumb, back and neck.
The merging vehicle had a limited policy of $100,000 and DiGirolamo got the entire policy limit for his client. He then went forward with suing the vehicle that struck Mr. Davison’s car, even though Archie had told police at the scene the accident was the other driver’s fault. It is vital to note that in New Jersey, there is a doctrine known as “sudden emergency.” This states that, if a driver is faced with a sudden unavoidable emergency like in this case and instinctively does what a reasonable person would do and move to avoid the merging car, then he can not be found liable for impact. Therefore, the proximate cause of the crash would be the merging vehicle. That aspect created a huge liability problem, as the car that swerved to avoid the merging vehicle would not accept any responsibility. An arbitrator and settlement judge indicated that DiGirolamo’s claim would be most difficult to prove to a jury.
Finally, after two years and numerous depositions including the investigating police officer and the two other drivers involved, DiGirolamo was able to resolve the case for an additional $152,500 for a total settlement of $252,500. Mr. Davison also very kindly supplied the law firm with a “thank you” of donuts and numerous other sweet treats, which was ever so kind and appreciated by the staff at MDL!