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Plaintiff Struck While Walking Near Highway – $70,000 Verdict


Plaintiff Struck While Walking Near Highway – Contributory Negligence Alleged – $70,000 Verdict

Brief statement of claim: Automobile negligence

Principal injuries (in order of severity): Left fibular fracture, peroneal nerve injury, multiple foot fractures, mild, fully resolved head injury

Special damages: Approximately $3,000-$5,000 in lost earnings

Tried or settled: Tried

County where tried or settled: Iredell

Case name and number: Ray Junior Neal v. Tammy Stergas (99 CvS 787)

Date concluded: Feb. 28, 2001

Name of judge: Mark Klass

Amount: $70,000 verdict; $83,000 judgment, including interest, costs

Insurance carrier: Atlantic Casualty (liability); Nationwide (underinsured)

Expert witnesses and areas of expertise: J. Wayne Meredith, M.D., trauma surgeon, Winston-Salem

Attorney for plaintiff: George Francisco of Francisco & Merritt, Mount Airy

Other useful info: The plaintiff alleged that he was standing approximately eight inches off the highway directly in front of his house watching his wife pull out directly in front of him. As his wife’s headlights shone on the plaintiff, the defendant’s car ran slightly off the road, striking the plaintiff.

The defendant left the scene of the accident. Someone else drove her back to the scene a few minutes later, according to the plaintiff’s counsel. Defendant left the scene and reported to the highway patrol approximately three hours later.

The liability and uninsured carriers offered $5,000 each to settle the case at mediation. Plaintiff offered to settle for $40,000 of the combined $50,000 liability/UIM limits.

At trial, defendants contended that plaintiff was contributorily negligent in that he was dressed in a dark blue work uniform and was walking on the road. Although defendant did not testify, defendant’s counsel took the position that defendant kept driving after the impact because she never saw the plaintiff, did not know what had struck her vehicle and thought that it was possibly a deer, according to plaintiff’s counsel.

Plaintiff’s testimony was that he was off the road and standing in the beam of his wife’s headlights before being struck.

Plaintiff’s counsel attributes the verdict to the credibility of plaintiff and his wife. They have been married for 40 years, an emergency medical technician testified that plaintiff was extremely honest and well known for his honesty in the community, and trial exhibits corroborated plaintiff’s version of the facts.

Plaintiff’s counsel states he was informed that defendant intended to file bankruptcy to avoid execution of the judgment on her home.

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