The estate of a person who was killed when their vehicle was rear-ended has settled its wrongful death suit for $6.5 million, the estate’s attorney reports.
Earl Taylor of Taylor Law Office in Wilson, who represented the estates, said that the victim died instantly from blunt force trauma injuries. Many details of the case, including the names of the parties and their counsel and the venue, were withheld pursuant to a confidentiality agreement.
Taylor said the case settled before trial after unsuccessful pre-suit and court-ordered mediations, and the defendant’s videotaped deposition was an important piece of evidence that Taylor said he had planned to use at trial.
Taylor said that the defendant alleged contributory negligence. Taylor said he didn’t think that the defense was supported by the evidence, and even if it had been it would have been trumped by the last clear chance doctrine.
“The accident reconstruction expert testified that the defendant had more than enough time and distance to easily and safely avoid the collision,” Taylor said.
The medical examiner testified that the death was immediate, so there was no evidence of pain and suffering, but Taylor said that N.C.G.S. 28A-18-2—which covers death by the wrongful act of another and compensation for the relationship between the decedent and his beneficiaries—helped establish the value of the case.
The statutory language makes clear that an estate can pursue damages commensurate with the decedent’s value to their family, not to society at large or to a reasonable person.
“But rather what this person’s value actually was to his family as shown by the closeness, daily interaction, love, affection, and the importance each family member placed on that relationship before the collision and the tremendous loss each felt afterwards,” Taylor said. “The entire family had lived lives of service to the community.”
Taylor added that his twin sons, first-year law students at the University of North Carolina School of Law, were instrumental in preparing the case, attending mediations and assisting in making presentations to focus groups.
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SETTLEMENT REPORT — MOTOR VEHICLE CRASH
Amount: $6.5 million
Injuries alleged: Death
Case name: Withheld
Date of settlement: Fall 2021
Attorney for plaintiff: Earl Taylor of Taylor Law Office in Wilson
Attorneys for defendant: Withheld