In some cases, a plaintiff might receive an offer of settlement in their auto accident case. In other cases, a plaintiff might receive a judgment and a damages award in their favor. However, sometimes, a plaintiff may be entitled to receive a jury verdict award and enforce the terms of a settlement. One recent Bay Area case was an example of how this worked.
The litigation in this instance arose from an August 2009 rear-end crash in Alameda County. Two men in the lead car sued for the injuries they suffered. Since the men were on the job when the accident occurred, a third-party vendor of their employer paid a portion of their expenses, leaving each man and the vendor pursuing claims against the rear driver.
The rear driver sought to settle with the vendor. The offer originally made by the defendant agreed to pay the vendor $35,000. The two sides pursued a settlement but reached an impasse on who would hold workers’ compensation lien rights.
The vendor eventually dismissed its claim in exchange for an assignment of certain rights equal to the payouts it had made on behalf of the injured men. At the trial’s conclusion, the jury awarded the two men a combined total of $183,000. The men then filed a motion after the trial, seeking to enforce the settlement offer that the defendant had extended under Section 998 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The trial court sided with the plaintiffs and ordered the defendant to pay.
The defendant appealed, arguing that, by making him fulfill the 998 offer without reducing the jury verdict by a corresponding $35,000, the total result was a double recovery by the plaintiffs and that they ultimately would be unjustly enriched by that $35,000 amount. The appeals court, while agreeing that the law does not allow the plaintiff to receive compensation twice for the exact same injuries, still did not rule for the defendant. The defendant’s case on appeal simply did not have enough proof to show definitely that what the jury and the trial judge did in this case actually did amount to giving the plaintiffs double compensation for identical injuries. The defendant was missing key evidence in its case, such as the amounts the plaintiffs paid the vendor for its lien rights. The defendant “never mentions these amounts, nor has he explained how they would affect a calculation of plaintiffs’ ultimate recovery,” the court stated in upholding the trial judge’s decision. Without this proof, it was impossible to conclude that the plaintiffs were unjustly enriched.
When you are injured in an auto accident, there are many possible routes to obtaining compensation. Experienced California counsel can help you identify a way to pursue the fullest recovery in your case. The skilled and knowledgeable San Mateo car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye & Fitting have been working on behalf of injured people in California for many years to help them as they pursue justice in their injury claims. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
California Man Injured in Low-Speed Crash Wins $1M Verdict in ‘Eggshell Plaintiff’ Case, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published Dec. 20, 2016
California Teen’s Excessive Speed Leads Jury to Hand Out $5M Judgment in U-Turn Accident, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published Dec. 7, 2016