In October 2003, a Jeep was rear-ended by a tractor trailer in Virginia, causing the Jeep to roll over several times. A passenger in the Jeep suffered brain damage as a result of the crash, and a Virginia jury awarded her $10.2 million dollars. The trucking firm that was a defendant in the case argued that the woman’s brain injuries were due to a previous incident, not the crash involving the Jeep. Although the jury awarded $10.2 million dollars, the matter was appealed, and the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the jury verdict.
It is 2009, nearly six years after this tragic event, and the injured woman is only now receiving closure to her ordeal, at least as far as it relates to the judicial process. Corporate defendants often do not take any responsibility, whatsoever, for the injuries they cause. Despite a jury of her peers finding that she was entitled to an award of damages, the corporate defendants in the Virginia case fought for years, undoubtedly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. The “tort-reform” lobby, which is primarily funded by the insurance industry, puts massive efforts and spares no expense into labeling many lawsuits as “frivolous”. However, the public rarely hears about cases involving a “frivolous defenses”. There are many instances in which a corporate defendant or insurance company vigorously defends a claim (which results in a lawsuit), even though there is no good faith basis to do so, or even if it makes no sense from a financial basis. In many cases, the corporate defendant or insurance company will spend far more in defending a claim than the total amount sought by an injured person. The reason is to “send a message” to injured people that should they pursue their rights, it will be costly, time consuming, difficult, and will be fought tooth and nail. It is therefore very important to ensure that when an injured person in selecting a lawyer to help them, that the lawyer be prepared to vigorously fight for their rights.