From the Beckley Register-Herald this morning:
The city of Beckley was confronted with two lawsuits in the same day, with the plaintiffs in each case seeking a jury trial and no less than $300,000 in damages, according to documents filed Tuesday in the Raleigh County circuit clerk’s office.Andrea Erskine, an Oak Hill resident, is represented by Lewisburg attorney Steven Hunter. According to Erskine’s complaint, she and Randall Erskine were driving north on South Fayette Street in Beckley on May 30, 2006, when a city dump truck “heavily laden with hot asphalt” crossed the center line of the street and struck Erskine’s 2004 Toyota 4-Runner head-on.The Toyota was purportedly “shoved and crushed with great force” into an embankment. The lawsuit contends that Ernest Oliver Dillard, a city employee and driver of the truck, was cited by Beckley police for failure to maintain control. His alleged crossing of the center line was illegal, negligent and careless, Hunter argues.Due to the accident, Erskine states that she has suffered from various injuries, strains and sprains. Since the accident, Erskine maintains, she has experienced “severe headaches, neck pain, mid-back pain and dizziness,” among other health problems.She is asking for $300,000 in damages. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick.The other suit was filed by Beckley attorney John Wooton on behalf of four plaintiffs — Jason Golden, Emily Golden, Gracie Golden and Noah Shrewsbury. Each plaintiff is requesting $100,000 in damages from the city. With the exception of Shrewsbury, a Beckley resident, the other plaintiffs hail from Wichita, Kan.According to Wooton’s complaint, the city “failed to take steps to either make the area safe or warn the plaintiffs and others of the dangerous conditions” at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. Such factors, Wooton said, “caused the transport car to crash into the access door, causing the plaintiffs to suffer the injuries and damages herein described.”Shrewsbury has reportedly suffered from injuries to his head, hand and back, along with “great emotional distress and mental anguish, physical pain and suffering, annoyance and inconvenience,” the suit alleges. The three Goldens are also said to have endured various bodily injuries.That case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Robert Burnside.
Note: The first case described in the article above, regarding the car accident, presents a common problem in car accident cases: damages. In the above case, the injury victim’s injuries are described as “various injuries, including strains and sprains . . . [and] severe headaches, neck pain, mid-back pain and dizziness . . . .” Injuries such as these are extremely difficult to prove and to quantify into concrete compensatory damages. Thus, although the injury victim actually does suffer from his injuries, to a certain extent there is room for the insurance companies to argue that there really is no damage there, that there is no way to actually prove that the person is suffering the pain, headaches, etc. The end result is that although liability is not an issue – the other driver was cited for careless driving – the injury victim may not recover very much for his injuries. However, there is always room for persuasive lawyering….” – John H. Bryan, West Virginia car accident attorney.