Trial victory for Smith & Hassler in Houston car accident injury case

Smith & Hassler is pleased to announce a trial victory yesterday in an automobile accident injury case. The case is Cause No. 2009-38849; Pedro Arroyo v Jennifer Fares, In the 165th Judicial District Court, Harris County, Texas (Judge Josefina Rendon presiding). Some details of the case are discussed here: no attorney-client privileges are violated because the trial and the trial transcript are a matter of public record.

Smith & Hassler’s client, Mr. Pedro Arroyo, is a 40-year old self-employed construction worker with 3 children. On December 12, 2007 Mr. Arroyo was driving a Chevrolet van on the beltway 8 feeder road. When he reached the intersection of the beltway 8 feeder and Gulfbank, his van was struck by a 2006 Dodge Magnum station wagon driven by the defendant, Jennifer Fares, who was 19-years old at the time.

The impact was significant: both vehicles were badly damaged and had to be towed. Many of Mr. Arroyo’s construction tools that were in his van were damaged. The police investigated and Ms. Fares was issued a ticket for running the red light. An ambulance checked Mr. Arroyo out at the scene but he did not want to be transported because he was concerned about the safekeeping of his tools. After the collision Pedro had pain to his left knee, left elbow, neck and his low back.

The next day Mr. Arroyo saw a chiropractor at Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Center on FM1960. He was diagnosed with headaches and lumbar and cervical sprains/strains. Pedro left for his annual Christmas vacation to Mexico at that time and resumed treatment with Spine & Rehab on January 4, 2008 when he returned to the United States. Mr. Arroyo’s additional treatment consisted of an MRI of his neck, an MRI of his low back, a consultation with a pain management specialist (M.D.) and two visits to a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. Doctors suggested Mr. Arroyo get an epidural steroid injection (he never have the injection). He had a total of 14 visits to Spine & Rehab for physical therapy and chiropractic care.

Pedro’s medical bills came to $8,046.  Before a lawsuit was ever filed, Smith & Hassler presented Pedro’s claim to Allstate, Ms. Fares’ automobile insurer, hoping to negotiate a fair settlement and avoid a lawsuit.  Allstate initially offered Pedro an amount under $6,000 then finally made their “top offer” of $6,800.  Despite Smith & Hassler’s efforts to negotiate, both before and after the lawsuit was filed, Allstate never offered more than $6,800 (which is less than Pedro’s medical bills). The last settlement offer Smith & Hassler made to Allstate before trial was $15,000.

After hearing the facts and evidence during a one-day trial, during which the only witnesses were the Plaintiff and Defendant, Smith & Hassler attorneys Daragh Carter (lead) and Roger Sullivan asked the jury to award the following:

Past medical expenses: $8,046
Past physical pain: $2,500
Past physical impairment: $2,500
Past mental anguish: $1,500
Total: $14,546

Here is what the jury actually awarded:

Past medical expenses: $8,046
Past physical pain: $3,000
Past physical impairment: $3,000
Past mental anguish: $1,500
Total verdict: $15,546 (not including taxable court costs and pre-judgment interest).

It was very gratifying that the jury saw fit to award MORE than was asked for, and this speaks to the justice of Pedro’s case.  The case was defended at trial by the law firm G. Patrick Collins & Associates, who is Allstate Insurance Company’s in-house law firm.

This was a fair verdict for a deserving client. Smith & Hassler thanks Mr. Arroyo for trusting us with his case. At our firm we believe it is important a personal injury attorney be prepared to take a case to trial when necessary: if you are currently searching for a personal injury attorney to represent you, you might ask attorneys you are considering when they last tried a case to a jury and what the outcome was.

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