Wrongful Death Blog

The Johnson Family Story

Jim and Cindy Johnson were very happy and enjoying their life together.  They were in their late forties and it was the second marriage for each of them.  They were best friends and did everything together.

Unfortunately, this all changed in an instant!  They were on their way to do some shopping and Jim was driving their van.  Suddenly a large commercial semi tractor-trailer ran a stop sign and pulled directly into their path under circumstances where it was impossible to avoid a collision.  The truck driver inexplicably ignored not only the two clearly visible stop signs, but also advanced warning signs, a verbal warning from his passenger and the clearly visible Johnson van.  Cindy was killed in the collision.  Jim suffered catastrophic permanent personal injuries, was hospitalized over 100 days and incurred hospital, physician, and other medical expenses in excess of $500,000.

As Cindy’s surviving spouse, Jim had a civil claim for her wrongful death, as did her four children, her mother, and other surviving relatives.  Their wrongful death claims included damage components such as funeral and burial expenses, loss of her income and services, loss of her society and companionship and mental anguish.

In addition to the wrongful death claim, Jim had a civil claim for his horrific personal injuries and his damages, including past and future medical expenses, past and future physical and emotional pain and suffering, past and future lost wages/diminution of earning capacity, disfigurement and generalized loss of enjoyment of life.

Cindy’s surviving children and Jim brought their claims to the civil trial attorneys of Dungan & LeFevre.  We filed a lawsuit against the truck driver, trucking company and other affiliated companies, and put together a team of experts in various fields, including commercial trucking, motor vehicle collision reconstruction, human factors engineering, psychologists and neurophysiologists, grief experts, numerous physicians, vocational rehabilitation expert, economist, etc., in order to effectively investigate and present the case.

After many months of litigation, including securing records pertaining to the truck and trucking company and numerous depositions of lay and expert witnesses, our trial team found the evidence which explained and proved why the truck driver missed the stop sign and caused this tragedy.  That driver, over a period of time, was in violation of the Federal Regulations limiting a trucker’s hours on duty and was suffering from a phenomenon known as driver’s fatigue which impairs the ability to drive as much as being under the influence of alcohol.  We also discovered that a pattern of allowing its drivers to violate the Federal driving hours restrictions existed in the trucking company, raising a very legitimate risk to the trucking company and its liability insurance company that a jury would award punitive damages.

We engaged in mediation at the request of the defense attorneys but it was not successful.  However, the trucking company and its lawyers requested a second mediation shortly before a jury trial was set to commence, and this time a settlement was negotiated.

This mediated settlement was for many millions of dollars and represents one of the largest ever in this area for a case of its kind.  Although nothing could fully compensate Jim or Cindy’s other surviving family members for this tragedy, all of our clients received very substantial amounts of money and the sense of justice and partial closure that they had been vindicated by our civil justice system.  We are also proud that we involved some of the finest physicians, rehabilitation experts, and psychologists in the care of our clients in order to allow them to maximize their healing and quality of life.

As is also reflected in Robert’s Story (included in this website), we take pride in operating a client/people focused tort litigation practice, where we strive not only for successful jury verdicts and settlements but also to enhance the healing and quality of life of our clients, most of whom remain close friends and referral sources.

Contact James Brookshire or Mike Baer if you would like to discuss a potential wrongful death claim.


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