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Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC

Washington Car v. Horse Accident Results in $2.7 Million Verdict

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A Chimacum, Washington woman who suffered severe injuries after hitting a dead horse in the road was award $2.7 million by a Jefferson County jury.  Back in December 2001 a Sprint telephone company vehicle hit a horse that was in the road at night.  Instead of getting out of his van and setting up warning cones, flares or reflective triangles all of which were in the van, the company driver left the scene. 

Later that night Nanette Audral came upon the scene and did not see the horse in time to stop.  Her car slammed into the dead horse. Ms. Audral sustained what was referred to at trial as "a full-body whiplash" leaving her in constant pain.  The van driver gave conflicting reasons for not alerting other drivers of the dead horse with the safety equipment in his van.  The van driver didn't even stop after hitting the horse, he just kept on driving.

Company protocol required the van driver to stop and take steps to prevent further accidents.  Before the accident Ms. Audral worked 60 hours per week in her family-owned gas station.  Unfortunately the gas station was closed as a result of her injuries and her inability to work the same hours she did prior to the accident. 

When you see a jury verdict of this size in a Washington car accident you can be sure there are huge out of pocket losses and/or severe permanent type of injuries.  Although I don't have the details, here it appears it's a combination of both that led to the 2.7 million dollar verdict.  Ms. Audral has still has constant pain eight years after the accident, that's a permanent type injury.  Plus she lost her business and ability to work at her job.  When people are in their prime earning years and lose the ability to work, the resulting loss in wages can add up to a large number very quickly.  

A verdict like this does not shock me given the basic facts regarding the damages Ms. Audral suffered.  In a way Ms. Audral was a little lucky in the accident.  How you ask?  The person the jury determined to have fault for the accident was corporation with an insurance policy which is in all likely much higher than any Regular Joe would have on his car or home.  

Often times, people suffer sever damages but there is not enough insurance to cover all the damages, and the person at fault does not have any other assets besides the insurance policy.  I cannot tell you the pain it gives me to have to tell a client their case is worth 10 times what they ultimately will be able to recover because of this scenario.  That's why carrying the most UIM insurance you can is the best protection you can provide for your family.  It doesn't cost that much, but can mean all the difference.

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