A fiery crash was caused by a drunken passenger car driver and an 18-wheeler in Georgia. The inebriated passenger car driver pulled across two lanes of a four lane road, crossed the median road and attempted to turn in the same direction as the 18-wheeler was traveling. Problem was, that driver also crossed over into the lane of travel of the 18-wheeler, causing it to leave the highway and crash into a nearby building, bursting into flames and killing the driver.
David Butts Law Firm represented the adult children of the driver of the 18-wheeler, who was “not young,” being over 60 years old, but who was married with two adult children by a previous wife, and with whom he was not particularly close. DAVID BUTTS LAW FIRM represented the adult children.
The drunk driver had minimal insurance. Her insurance company immediately tendered her insurance: $25,000.00. As it appeared that the at-fault driver had no other significant assets, then further pursuit of her in court would have been fruitless.
But the 18-wheeler’s employer did carry $1 Million in uninsured (or, in this case, “underinsured”) motorist coverage for its drivers, and in the tragic circumstances of this case it is laudatory that it did so. It is doubtful many employers carry under-insured policy limits for drivers of its vehicles.
As the Mississippi Supreme Court has said: wrongful death damages are limited to: ” (1) the present net cash value of the life expectancy of the deceased, (2) the loss of the companionship and society of the decedent, (this means the loss of the relative to their family) (3) the pain and suffering of the decedent between the time of injury and death, and (4) punitive damages.”
McGowan v. Estate of Wright, 524 So.2d 308, 311 (Miss.1988) (citing Jesco, Inc. v. Whitehead, 451 So.2d 706, 710 (Miss.1984)); Sheffield v. Sheffield, 405 So.2d 1314, 1318 (Miss.1981); Dickey v. Parham, 331 So.2d 917, 918-919 (Miss.1976); Thornton v. Ins. Co. of North America, 287 So.2d 262, 265 (Miss.1973); Scott v. K-B Photo Service, Inc., 260 So.2d 842, 844 (Miss.1972); Boyd Constr. Co. v. Bilbro, 210 So.2d 637, 643 (Miss.1968).
The present net cash value of the life of a person killed in an accident is based on that person’s work-life expectancy (meaning what he would have earned less certain deductions). Here we had a man over 60 years of age, so his life expectancy was limited.
In Mississippi, non-economic damages, because of tort-reform, are limited in these cases to $1 Million and, if trial is had, a jury decides the amount of the award (subject to the limit) based on what it determines is the nebulous “loss of society and companionship.” Naturally, the more contact and emotional ties one has with a family member the greater the loss.
So, DAVID BUTTS LAW FIRM was confronted with a case (albeit one of clear liability and underinsured status of the drunk driver), but with adult clients who were not dependent on their father for support, nor very close, as would have been the case of a much younger man with children at home.
Through the efforts of David Butts Law Firm, in cooperation with the second wife’s attorneys, the employer’s insurer paid the full $1 Million to the truck driver’s heirs, which were his second wife and the two adult children. Click on the image below to see the true effects of drinking and driving in the United States.