Past Midnight on May 5, 2011, a tractor-trailer driven by Jerry O’Reilly, an employer of Try Hours and National Interstate Insurance Co., was driving in Georgia on I-285 in a Westbound Lane. At the same time and driving in the same direction as Mr. O’Reilly, Ms. Kristen Meredit, age 41, was driving her compact sedan when suddenly O’Reilly’s tractor-trailer attempted a lane change and in doing so clipped the driver’s side of Ms. Meredit’s car causing it to flip over many times, and finally come to rest on the shoulder of the road.
Injured, Ms. Meredit was taken by ambulance to a hospital where she underwent surgery later on her lower back to fuse her vertebrae.
In April, 2013, Ms. Meredith filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County State Court against Defendant truck driver Mr. Jerry O’Really and his employer Try Hours and National Interstate Insurance Co. alleging negligence on the part of both Defendants and seeking more than $ 75,000 in compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages.
The case was moved to Federal Court in the Northern District of Georgia, a month after it was filed in State Court, since both GA State and Superior Courts lacked jurisdiction over the parties, and only the Federal Court had jurisdiction over the parties in the case since, although the accident happened in Georgia, all of the defendants resided out of state; this is called Diversity of Jurisdiction
In court pleadings, the Defendant claimed that the Plaintiff caused the crash even though the Defendant was cited at the crash for Improper Lane Change and later pled guilty, and paid a fine. The ticket and plea, however, were not the defining moments in the case.
Later, during depositions, Defendant O’Reilly denied using a phone, computer, or camera while driving. He later changed his testimony, however, and admitted that he took photos when he was driving after he was presented with dozens of photographs from his Facebook page.
What is very interesting is that while none of the comments or photos that were presented to O’Reilly during his testimony during questioning were posted to his Facebook page at the time of the crash, the Attorney for the Plaintiff was still able to establish a pattern of distracted driving. Broadhead stated that, “We always do background searches on defendants and will pull background information from social media, Internet and records searches.” “We have private investigators looking things up.””It appeared this guy just drove down the road taking photos,” he said. “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.”
To make matters worse for O’Reilly, one of the post’s on his Facebook page has a picture of the cab of this truck with the caption that stated, “My new bumper. Now pull your ass out in front of me.”
There were more posts as well that continued that would put fuel on this fire if this case ever went to a Jury trial and everyone knew it.
At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates, we have represented thousands of clients and their families who have been injured or killed in Tractor-Trailer Crashes, Automobile Accidents, and in Incidents such as the one we have discussed in this blog post where a Distracted Driver was involved causing Severe injuries to another human being.
We also, as described in our Newsletter, encourage our clients to gather as much information as possible at the scene of the accident in the form of photos and, if possible, video if you have an iPhone or other such form of technology available at the scene. As we have stated, don’t assume that the police will gather all of the necessary evidence at the scene so gather as much information as you can.
Do not, however, neglect your injuries in an effort to gather evidence. You getting well and receiving the best medical treatment as soon as possible following the crash is the first and most important item that deserves your attention at the time of a crash.
We can’t say it enough: Don’t Text and Drive or do anything that takes your attention away from the road.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a Distracted Driver, then please kindly Contact Us by any or all of the following means for your free legal consultation: By phone at (770) 865-8654, or (813) 363-6664; by email at email@example.com; or by the Contact Form on our Website or on this Blog. We look forward to speaking with you soon.