FedEx Loses Big At Trial After Rear End Collision Causes Back Injuries
FedEx offered $1.8 million to a woman who was rear-ended by one of their drivers and suffered back injuries as a result. However, the jury returned a verdict of $8 million. That’s a lot of money for back injuries. Typically, you would expect paralysis injuries to net a figure that high.
In this case, FedEx admitted liability for the accident but disputed how injured the plaintiff was by their driver. FedEx claimed the woman suffered severe injuries from a second unrelated accident and that she had largely healed from the first accident.
Now, the two parties are bickering over what settlements were or were not offered during trial. The plaintiff contends that they offered to settle the matter for $2 million and the defendants claim they kept a settlement offer $1.8 million on the table the entire time. So in fighting for an extra $200,000, the defense cost themselves an extra $6 million.
The problem is made worse because the courts incentivize settling the matter when the offer is fair. In this case, the defense will also be on the hook for the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees because they rejected the offer.
Analyzing the case
It remains unclear the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, but juries tend not to respond well to defendants that claim a plaintiff was injured by someone else. It just doesn’t work at trial when you have doctors testifying that the injuries that occurred were caused by the first accident. A second accident may occur, but the injuries caused by the first accident will make the second accident that much worse. So there’s no way to divide the liability between the first accident and the second accident. If a second accident happens to a victim, that is the defendant’s bad luck if the injury would not be as bad had the first accident never occurred. A separate claim for the aggravation of pre-existing injuries can be filed against the second driver, if appropriate. But the liability from the first accident is not eliminated by a second accident.
If the defendants could prove that the woman had completely recovered from the first accident and that the second accident was wholly responsible for her current injuries, the case may have played out differently. Unfortunately, the argument was unconvincing and they gambled a lot of money on winning the argument at trial to save an apparent $200,000.
Regardless, the woman’s injuries were likely extensive enough to reduce her quality of life, prevent her from doing her job, and cost her money for the rest of her life. So, she deserves to be compensated. FedEx drew this lawsuit out for years, and then refused to settle over $200,000. They then lost another $6 million. They deserved it.
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