As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we have recently concluded a four-year long case which resulted in the largest reported personal injury verdict in the history of Sarasota or Manatee counties of $19.2 million. Matthew Martin was 19 years old when the driver of the car he was in lost control and crashed into trees and a concrete pump house on September 20, 2010. Though Mr. Martin sustained brain injuries that left him in a persistent vegetative state, the driver’s insurer, Geico, failed to reach a settlement, and litigation ensued.
While this was a longer case than most, it is not uncommon for a personal injury case to last up to three years before a settlement is reached, or a year-and-a-half for a case that doesn’t go to trial. Part of the reason for this is the exhaustive investigation and research that goes into making an argument and proving a case. It is important to find a firm that has the resources and working relationships with the people in your community.
For this particular case, we brought in seven different experts for the various testimony that was needed to prove liability, damages and future care needs. When the defense argued that our client was at fault for not wearing a seatbelt in the backseat of the car, we brought in accident reconstruction experts and biomedical experts to prove that the sixty-five miles per hour collision would have caused the same injuries even with a restraint. Taking our time to investigate and develop a strategy helps us to maximize the funds that clients will receive for their cases.
Complicating this case was the defense’s contention that the case had already been settled prior to our office becoming involved in 2014, a matter that will be dealt with in more detail during the next “Bad Faith” portion of the case. It took numerous motions and hearings before it was determined that it had not, and that we could move forward. It is unfortunate, but our experience shows us that many insurance companies use a variety of tactics to get out of paying claims, and most of them can afford to outspend most firms.
We realize that clients can become overwhelmed by the time that it takes to litigate a case and throw in the towel instead of staying the course. We hope that the outcome of this case will help people realize the importance of following through with a case and how much it can be worth when you have a great legal team working for you. This case produced $200,000 in legal costs and years of protracted and contentious litigation, but our firm is very good at building a case against insurance companies. Additionally, because we are a small firm, we are able to provide the personal attention and consistency our cases and clients require, ensuring that the attorney who initially took your case will also be the attorney who takes your case to trial, an extremely helpful measure when fighting such a battle.
At Wittmer | Linehan, we know that results matter. If you need a knowledgeable firm that has the expertise, knowledge, resilience, and resources necessary to handle cases where large insurance companies are involved, we hope you contact us to help you achieve the results you’re looking for.