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$1 Million at Mediation for Driver Avoiding Another Accident

On October 14, 1994, Rufus Fisher was leaving work at A.O. Smith and traveling home when a vehicle in front of him stopped suddenly as a result of another accident. In an attempt to avoid rear-ending the car in front of him, Mr. Fisher applied his brakes and turned his vehicle to the left, toward the emergency lane. The driver of the vehicle behind Mr. Fisher failed to have his vehicle under control and rear-ended Mr. Fisher’s car, forcing it into the median wall. Mr. Fisher was unconscious at the scene of the accident and was bleeding from his forehead.

As a result of the accident, Mr. Fisher sustained post-concussive syndrome that resulted in memory deficits, psychomotor speed deficits, and problems with attention and concentration; they were exacerbated by the presence of a major depressive order. It was the opinion of all of Mr. Fisher’s treating doctors that he suffered serious and debilitating permanent injuries as a result of this accident and his medical expenses were in excess of $62,000.

Mr. Fisher was employed at A.O. Smith Corporation as a machinist and it was his intention to continue working there into his 70s. He was working eight to ten hours a day, seven days a week prior to the accident, but as a result of the injuries he sustained, he was unable to go back to A.O. Smith.

On May 22, 1997, a lawsuit was started in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on behalf of Rufus and June Fisher.

Prior to the filing of the lawsuit, no offer was made by the insurance company to resolve this claim. In the initial stages of the lawsuit, it was the insurance company’s position that Mr. Fisher might have been at fault for this accident because he would have rear-ended the car in front of him even if he would not have been rear-ended by the insurance company’s defendant.

Depositions were taken of witnesses and we were ultimately able to get the insurance company to stipulate to liability on the claim. There were never any offers made on the file until June 5, 1998, which was when the insurance company offered $500,000 to settle the claim. This offer was rejected and the parties went to mediation on September 4, 1998. After about three hours, we were able to get a settlement offer of $1,000,000.