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Defective Work Vehicle Results in Policy Limits Settlement

Jeffrey R. Davis

Plaintiff, a woman in her 60s, drove a van for a medical company.

The van was recalled approximately seven months before the Plaintiff’s accident. However, the van owner never bothered to have the van serviced or honor the recall warnings. The manufacturer’s recall was to correct a potential situation where the van could unexpectedly shift the transmission from park to neutral, thereby allowing the vehicle to roll if it was on an incline.

The day of the incident, the Plaintiff was making a delivery at a business location that had an incline at the entrance ramp. After placing the van in park, the Plaintiff exited the van in order to complete the delivery. Within seconds of closing the driver’s door, she heard a metallic clicking sound that sounded like something in the van had snapped. She turned and observed the van beginning to roll backward toward several parked cars. She attempted to run toward the van in order to open the driver’s door and stop it so as to protect her employer’s property and avoid the collision. In the process of doing so, the van ran over her foot breaking her ankle.

Despite several months of medical care for the fracture, the Plaintiff developed an infection and required surgical debridement for cellulitis. Her ankle is still swollen and she is still receiving medical care under her worker’s compensation insurance.

Jeff Davis Law was able to determine, after investigation of the vehicle ownership, that other parties, in addition to her employer, were joint owners of the van. The law firm was able to bring a lawsuit against the additional owners since worker’s compensation immunity would have prevented a lawsuit against the Plaintiff’s employer.

After presenting the entirety of the Plaintiff’s medical records and projected future losses, the insurance carrier for the van surrendered its full policy limits thereby allowing the Plaintiff a significant financial recovery. (It should be noted that the law firm was able to work successfully with the manufacturer’s representatives in providing extensive information about the vehicle defect and obtained a public data cache of records from the National Highway Transportation Administration and US General Services Administration in addition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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