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$2,650,000 Jury Verdict in Wrongful Death Motor Vehicle Case where Decedent was Turning Left from a Stop Sign

Daryl L. Zaslow obtained a $2,650,000 verdict on behalf of the Estate of a 42 year old man who died in a motor vehicle accident when he was making a left turn at an intersection with a stop sign in his direction. The defendant’s insurer offered only $200,000 to settle the case because the Plaintiff had the stop sign in his direction and was attempting to cross 3 lanes of traffic when the accident occurred, so Mr. Zaslow and his clients proceeded to trial.

Mr. Zaslow argued that the Defendant failed to appreciate he was driving his landscaping truck 14 miles over the speed limit and did not immediately slow down the truck when he first observed the Plaintiff’s car in his in his path of travel. The speed limit in that area of the accident was 45 mph and Zaslow presented an expert accident re-constructionist who determined the Defendant was driving 59.6 mph before he jammed on the brakes of the truck. Additionally, although the State Laboratory results were negative for Diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl) in the defendant’s blood, there was Diphenhydramine in the urinalysis and Zaslow presented expert testimony that the blood test results were unreliable since the blood specimen was taken nearly 5 hours after the accident. The expert toxicologist also testified that the defendant was likely suffering the adverse effects of Diphenhydramine/Benadryl at the time of the accident, which include drowsiness, fatigue and disturbed coordination and that these factors contributed to the accident.

The beneficiaries included a wife and three daughters. The jury awarded $2.2 million to the survivors for their future financial losses due to the death of the decedent, and $450,000 for past losses. It was also determined that the decedent died instantaneously. The $2.65 million award was to be reduced to $1,987,500 as the jury determined that the decedent bore 25% responsibility for the accident. Plaintiffs filed an offer of Judgment under R. 4:58 in the amount $1,000,000, and Plaintiffs were entitled to recover litigation costs, 8% interest and attorneys’ fees in addition to the $1,987,500 net verdict.