On Sept. 7, a jury awarded $2.5 million to a 63-year-old retired Army veteran who suffered several injuries in a three-car crash, the woman’s attorneys report.
According to one of her lawyers, Roy Willey IV of the Anastopoulo Law Firm in Charleston, Therese Hood suffered a broken ankle, rib fractures, and a dissection of the artery in her neck when defendant Antoine Johnson, looking to make a left turn, pulled his Honda Accord into the median of a Hilton Head highway and struck Hood’s Chevy Equinox. The impact pushed Hood’s vehicle across the median and into an oncoming SUV.
The plaintiff and the defense disagreed whether the wreck occurred inside or outside the 30-minute window after sunset (state law requires the use of headlights 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise), but several witnesses said that Hood’s headlights were not illuminated. According to Hood, her lights were automatic and she could see fine.
Willey said that the posted speed limit was 45 mph and though his client claimed to be going about 30 mph at the time of the crash, black box data from her vehicle showed that she was traveling more than 60 mph. Willey added that a lawyer witness testified that just before the wreck, Hood, driving without headlights, was tailgating him. The lawyer moved over to let Hood pass, Willey said, and the wreck happened shortly thereafter.
The defense made a pretrial offer of $200,000, according to Willey, who demanded $650,000.
After the second day of trial, Willey said that he was asked to make another demand, and that he stuck with $650,000.
“The adjuster laughed as she walked down the stairs and did not come to the final day of trial or for the verdict,” Willey said.
The jury awarded $2.5 million, but reduced the verdict by half after finding defendant Johnson 51 percent at-fault. A $75,000 setoff for the liability and personal injury protection case already settled by Kevin Smith of the Hoffman Law Firm in North Charleston left the final award at $1.2 million, Willey said.
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VERDICT REPORT – MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Amount: $1, 200,000 (reduced from $2.5 million because of contributory negligence)
Injuries alleged: Broken ankle, fractured ribs, dissection of neck artery
Case name: Therese Hood v. Antoine Johnson
Case No.: 2015-CP-27-0119
Court: Jasper County Court of Common Pleas
Judge: Carmen Mullen
Date of settlement: Sept. 7
Most helpful experts: Stephanie Borzendowski, Ph.D., of Charleston
Attorneys for plaintiff: Roy Willey IV of the Anastopoulo Law Firm in Charleston and Kevin Smith of the Hoffman Law Firm in North Charleston
Attorneys for defendant: Jackson Daniel and Madison Sutties of Carlock, Copeland & Stair in Charleston