Trucker Jerry O’Reilly and the driver of a sedan, Kristin Meredith, were driving on I-285 when O’Reilly changed lanes, clipping Meredith’s vehicle and causing it to flip multiple times before coming to rest on the highway shoulder. Meredith was critically injured and had to have surgery to fuse vertebrae in her lower back.
Meredith filed a suit against the driver, his employer, and their insurance company. During O’Reilly’s deposition, he initially claimed that he did not use cameras, phones, or computers while driving and that distracted driving wasn’t the cause of the accident. However, Meredith’s attorney produced photos taken from O’Reilly’s Facebook page that were clearly taken from the cab of his vehicle.
“It appeared this guy just drove down the road taking photos,” said the lawyer in an interview with The Daily Report. “It speaks to his negligence and disregard for the safety of others. He switched lanes into my client and, in doing so, said he never saw her.”
Some of the photos and captions were particularly damning including a photo of his truck cab and a caption that read “My new bumper. Now pull your ass out in front of me.”
Even though there was no evidence that O’Reilly was using his phone or camera during the accident, it established a pattern of distracted driving.
Though initially the suit sought only around $75,000 plus punitive damages, Meredith’s attorney was able to win a settlement of $1 million.
“It was at the point where the case clearly had a value over $1 million,” Brodhead said. “We gave the defense the option to pay its policy limits, and the defense attorneys did an excellent job of protecting their clients from any excess judgment.”
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