Meet Jennifer V.
How We Helped Jennifer Fight Her Big Rig Claim
Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm's entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer's or law firm's past results. Client identity has been changed to protect their privacy. Images used do not represent actual events or client.
When an 18-wheeler pulling two trailers swerved into Jennifer V.’s van she was luckier than some might have been. She was shaken and injured, but not as seriously as big rig injuries can potentially be. The police officer who arrived on the scene and who took the accident report told Jennifer that she shouldn’t have any problems with the trucker’s insurance company, as the crash was “clearly” the truck driver’s fault. The officer even noted this in the report.
But Jennifer did have problems with the trucker’s insurance company – and the trucker. They not only denied her claim, but tried to blame her for the accident. Denial and deflection is all too typical in accident claims and, sadly, Jennifer’s case was no different.
Jennifer knew that this was not going to be like a typical fender-bender car wreck claim and that she might be in for a much more complex and contentious fight.
Here is Jennifer’s story.
Jennifer V. is retired from a large North Carolina university. Married for nearly 40 years, she has two children, a big dog, and cats. She teaches part time and she enjoys gardening. “I like to play with my flowers. They don't talk back. They're not sarcastic. They stay where you put them.”
Typical Day Turns Ugly
Jennifer was on her way to teach class one day and was traveling down the I-40/I-440 in her van. The North Carolina Department of Transportation had been doing construction along that stretch of highway. She saw a sign that said “Slow Down,” so Jennifer slowed down and moved into the far left lane to allow a truck to merge onto the interstate. The truck was pulling two trailers.
“He merged, and I was in the far left lane, had the right of way, and his second trailer swung out and hit me.” Jennifer recalled.
Even though Jennifer was driving a large van, she felt the impact of the collision shift her van. “I'm lucky to have come through when I did with as little injury as I did, because if I had been driving something smaller, he would have knocked me off the road. No question. I'm just glad I had the big car.”
Adding Insult to Injury
“He got out of the car and he said, ‘What happened back there?’ I said, ‘You hit me.’ And he said, ‘Well if you think I hit you, call the police.’ And that was his attitude towards the whole thing.”
Jennifer did call the police. No one was cited for the wreck, but Jennifer knew she had the right of way and was not at fault. She recalled the police officer assuring her, "You won't have any problems. It was clearly his fault."
Jennifer said she was “in shock” and she drove straight to her insurance office. Her insurance representative took one look at her van and told her it would be totaled and that she would not have “any problem.”
But she did have a problem. A big one.
The truck driver’s insurance company was suing Jennifer claiming she was at fault for the wreck.
“They thought it was a real joke in my insurance office. They know me. They said, ‘Jennifer’s going around attacking eighteen wheelers.’”
But Jennifer’s painful injuries, her totaled car, time off work, and other inconveniences she suffered were no joke at all. She could not work for at least six weeks and lost thousands of dollars of business.
“I had injuries on my right side going down my right leg and right hip, and I had problems moving my leg and doing things. ...I went to the doctor, they did X-rays, and then they sent me to physical therapy and they did exercises to strengthen the damage that had been done on my right side. …I couldn't do things that my left side could do. I couldn't do a lot of household chores, I couldn't vacuum. …I really had problems getting out of the bathtub. …I couldn't straighten up. …So I went to the doctor and they sent me for X-rays, and I had arthritis in my lower spine. Never had that before…but now all of a sudden, I'm having problems after this wreck...”
Trucker Blamed Jennifer
Within about a week of the accident Jennifer knew she would need to get a lawyer to represent her against the trucking company who was denying responsibility and citing her as the at-fault driver.
“I knew I had to do something because I needed a vehicle. I needed something to drive, and I was really disappointed because this car was paid for and I loved it. ...So that's when I decided… this is ridiculous. He's going to drag this thing out. I'm going to need some help."
Jennifer got a copy of the accident report, which showed that the truck driver was an independent owner/operator, meaning that he owned and operated his own truck and trailer. Having fought commercial truck accident cases for 20 years, we have seen the repercussions that being cited as “at-fault” can do to a truck driver’s commercial driver’s license. Sometimes their very livelihood is potentially on the line.
Jennifer believed he would try to do everything possible to try to shift the blame away from himself. She recognized that, to the truck driver, this wreck meant more to him than simply accepting fault for her totaled vehicle and her injuries. She remembers thinking “…He was going to give me a problem with it. …I just thought it was wrong that he was trying to get out of it. …And if I didn't do something, he would. Plain and simple. He would.”
Insurance Company Was “A Bear”
If there is one line we have heard over and over in this business from insurance companies it’s, “It’s under investigation.” Our professional opinion is that this can be code for, “We’re going to draw this out until you are so financially strapped and desperate for money and a car to drive that you’ll take as little as possible, as long as you get something.”
This is the point at which some people decide to finally contact us. Jennifer was no different.
“His insurance company was a bear. Every time I tried to talk to them, it was...‘It's under investigation.’ ‘It's under investigation.’ They would never give me any clear answers, it was difficult getting someone on the phone. The insurance company home office was out of state. This guy had an address in Raleigh that had the trucking company registered in a different town in North Carolina, and had a driver's license from Virginia.”
Like many clients who come to us after trying to deal with insurance on their own, Jennifer felt overwhelmed. “I'm not at fault here…he should be trying to accommodate me, but he's avoiding me, and his insurance company kept saying, ‘We don't have a report. It's under investigation.’ And…things like that, so I knew I was going to need some help.”
TV Ads Lead to James Scott Farrin
“Never in a million years” did Jennifer consider she would need to get a law firm involved to force an at-fault driver to own up and compensate her for her injuries and totaled vehicle.
She saw our “We Mean Business” ad on TV and decided that she meant business too. She remembered, “I had seen the ads, and I liked the ads. …I wanted somebody that could be firm with them and say, ‘Hey look. We're not playing here. You need to step up to the plate and take responsibility.’”
With trucking claims, in particular, it is important to act quickly to try to preserve as much evidence as possible – the log books, the truck’s black box, interview witnesses, and other evidence. Jennifer didn’t contact us until about a week after the accident, so she was pleased and relieved when our firm took her case and went to work investigating it right away.
What Did Jennifer Like About Working With Us?
Jennifer was not looking for anything other than fair and just compensation for her injuries, her car and most importantly, that the responsible party would admit fault. It was as much principle with her as it was recovery for her injuries.
“I think everybody [at James Scott Farrin] was very professional and very up front. …I was just expecting the responsibility to be taken where it should be, as a matter of principle. …September of the following year is when he finally admitted fault. Ten months later! And do you think he would have done that if I hadn't had an attorney's office pressuring them? No. …it probably still would have been dragging on.”
In the end, Jennifer was very pleased that she had seen our “We Mean Business” TV commercial and decided to contact us to for help fighting for her recovery.
“I think the name James Scott Farrin Attorneys [carries] a lot of weight, and I think when you mention this attorney group, people pay attention.”
Someone You Can Trust to Fight for You
“I think …especially with a trucking accident, [people] really do need to seek the advice of an attorney's office, because they know the laws…better than a common person does, and you need someone to help you that you can trust, that you feel good about, to fight for you.”