Thursday, September 2, 2010

Darryl Samples Gets Justice

Court of Justice of Paris.Image via Wikipedia

Darryl Samples v. John Blay, State Court.

This is the first of an occasional series of stories detailing justice in GA.
We asked a consumer lawyer to talk about a recent case. Here you go:Call Mark Link anytime,

1.Tell us about your client:

Have you ever heard someone talk about when they "knew" they'd found the person that they would marry? For Darryl Samples that moment happen on his first date with his wife. They went for motorcycle ride and on that first date a common love for riding blossomed in to a happy marriage. Together they planned Darryl's approaching retirement that would include a ride across the country. He'd worked hard his whole life and this trip with the love of his life would be his reward.

2.What happened?

Darryl's pride and joy was his newly restored Harley-Davidson. One beautiful morning he decided it was time to show his co-workers his bike. It was his first time back out on it after the restoration. The guys loved it. He was as proud as could be. On his way home after work he thought about the ride he and his wife would take that night and couldn't wait to share how much his co-workers loved the restoration. Right as you get up to Peachtree Parkway on Spaulding Drive the traffic tends to back up a little, so Darryl did what a lot of folks do, he slide over in to the center turn lane to enter the turn lane at the intersection. Just then a car made a left hand turn across the lanes and directly in to Darryl. The collision threw him from the Harley and severely broke his ankle. Darryl was taken to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to stabilize his crushed ankle. He was discharged from the hospital with $72,000 in medical bills, a wrecked bike, and a long home confinement ahead of him while he healed.

3.Why did you file?

At first Darryl and his wife thought because there was insurance everything would be taken care of. The person who hit him had very little insurance, which was not enough to cover his medical expenses. He made a claim against his own underinsurance carrier, since he had paid for that coverage, and they denied him, leaving him frustrated and devastated. Because the insurance company was unreasonable, he was forced to bring them to court to resolve their dispute.

4.What was the result?

After Darryl and his wife filed suit, there was a mediation between the Samples and the insurance company, State Farm. The insurance company got to meet the Samples, see the impact the injuries had, and review all of the $72,000 worth of medical bills. They offered $2500 to settle the case. Quite simply they thought the whole thing was Darryl's fault. For the Samples it was like they were in a brand new accident. They decided to go to trial.

The case was tried in Gwinnett State Court in front of Judge Mock. It took about a day and half from opening statement to the jury's verdict. During the trial Darryl testified about a lot of things, but he also testified about how he felt that he did in fact share some of the blame for how the accident happened. It wasn't easy to do, to tell a group of strangers that you had a hand in what happened to you, but it was the truth, and that's the kind of guy Darryl is. The Defendant testified too, and in the end stuck to their guns that it was all Darryl's fault.

The jury awarded $416,000 in damages to Darryl, but because they too decided that both parties were at fault in the accident, the split that blame 60% to the Defendant and 40% to Darryl. As a result, Darryl only received 60% of the award, or $250,000.

5.Talk to us about the case:

Every day we make little decisions that can have great impact over the rest of our lives. For Darryl, who will never be able to ride his Harley again, his life was forever changed by the decision that he made on Spaulding Drive that day. He accepted responsibility for his actions and believed that the insurance company should have done the same.

Together Darryl and his wife are building a new plan for the future, and are thankful that they trusted the people from their community who served on the jury that week.
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