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PF&F Prevents Overreach by Plaintiff in Trial of Multi-Vehicle Accident

traffic jam on highway with red backlights shining

At Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, PLLC, we like to talk about the “PF&F difference.” That phrase often refers to the intangibles of quality legal service, but in a lawsuit decided July 6, 2016, that difference was $90,000 or more in our client’s favor. The case, Fletcher v. Elliot, arose from a multi-vehicle auto accident on December 19, 2013 in Berkeley County.  Attorney Matthew R. Whitler represented the defendant driver, an insured of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, and convinced a jury to return a verdict that was not only lower than the plaintiff’s projected verdict at trial, but was also significantly lower than the plaintiff’s last settlement demand.

Mr. Whitler made the most of facts that raised doubts as to the defendant’s liability. The plaintiff had been driving south on Interstate 81 in extremely heavy traffic. At that time, our client entered the interstate at Exit 16 and was situated behind the plaintiff’s vehicle. The two vehicles made contact, and as a result the plaintiff’s vehicle left the roadway, rolling to a stop among some bushes. Our client’s vehicle subsequently struck at least one other vehicle before coming to a stop near the median barrier.

The plaintiff sought damages for past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of future earning capacity. The plaintiff’s last settlement demand was for $100,000, the limit of our client’s auto insurance policy, and was threatening to obtain a verdict far in excess of the policy limits based on mock jury presentations. Considering the injuries the plaintiff alleged — severe and permanent neck and back injuries and a concussion leading to chronic migraines — State Farm provided a reasonable settlement offer.

But the plaintiff maintained her demand for policy limits, and the case went to trial.  State Farm put their trust in Mr. Whitler, who trusted his client, who had asserted all along that a truck on the opposite side had nudged her vehicle into the plaintiff’s car.  Furthermore, an independent medical examination and analysis of the plaintiff’s complaints had indicated that any injuries related to the accident should have only lasted for at most 16 weeks.  Mr. Whitler’s court presentation proved persuasive, as after a five-day trial and an hour of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for only $10,000 plus costs, which was $90,000 less than the plaintiff had demanded.

At PF&F, our insurance defense attorneys are determined to deliver value to clients through quality legal work.  In this case, Mr. Whitler delivered a result that substantially exceeded our client’s expectations.

Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, PLLC has served clients throughout West Virginia for more than 25 years. To schedule a consultation, call 304-344-0100 or contact us online.

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