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Fatal Accident Claim against a Drunk Driver Resolved for $3.1 Million

A Pennsylvania jury has resolved a fatal accident claim against a drunk driver with an award of $3.1 million compensation in favor of the victim´s estate.

Twenty-seven year old Calvin Wilson was driving his motorbike along Belmont Avenue in Philadelphia on April 4, 2013, when an SUV driven by Kahlile Gray turned left immediately in front of him. Calvin had no way of avoiding the collision, and hit the SUV – the impact of the collision forcing him into the air and over the negligent driver´s vehicle.

Calvin landed badly on the surface of the road and was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Hospital by ambulance. Tragically he was pronounced dead soon after his arrival. An investigation into the accident found that Gray – the driver of the SUV – was over the legal blood alcohol limit and that his vehicle contained several opened alcoholic beverage containers.

Calvin´s estate made a fatal accident claim against a drunk driver in order to provide financial assistance to Calvin´s two children and their mother, to whom Calvin was engaged. Negligence was undisputed, but Gray´s insurance company – American Independent Insurance Co. – did not agree to how much compensation was being claimed.

The case went to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia for the assessment of damages, where the insurance company argued that Calvin had contributed to his fatal injuries due to the negligent way in which he had been riding his motorbike at speed prior to the accident. Their claim was supported by a crash reconstruction expert.

However, a witness for Calvin´s estate testified that, although Calvin may have been riding recklessly prior to the accident, he had not been speeding when Gray pulled in front of him.

At the end of the five-day hearing, the jury found in favor of Calvin´s estate. They awarded the estate $1.85 million in survival act damages and $1.25 million in wrongful death damages for a total $3.1 million settlement of the fatal accident claim against a drunk driver. The jury did not consider that Calvin had contributed to his injuries by his comparative negligence, but also ignored a request by the estate´s lawyer to consider damages for conscious pain and suffering.

The estate´s lawyer told reporters after the fatal accident claim against a drunk driver were settled that he may sue Gray´s insurance company for not settling the claim earlier. “The verdict was a fair verdict”, he said, “and it was a verdict that American Independent Insurance Co. should have anticipated two-and-a-half years ago.”