$6.75 Million Settlement in Death of Passenger and Injury to Driver in Car Crash

Thomas Dempsey, 78, was driving his SUV on a busy four-lane highway during a cross-country trip. He exited the highway to use a restroom. His car approached a line of stopped cars, but he was unable to take his foot off the accelerator and swerved his SUV onto a grassy median, which led the SUV to accelerate and hit a deep drainage ditch.

In turn, Dempsey’s SUV became airborne and eventually landed on top of a truck driven by plaintiff Boris Woodard. The impact caused both the Dempsey SUV and the Woodard truck to cross two lanes of traffic and roll down an embankment.

Woodard suffered eye injuries and bruising. Much worse and tragic was the witnessing of the injury and subsequent death of Woodard’s 25-year-old daughter who was his passenger. Anna Woodard lapsed into a coma and was hospitalized for nine days after the crash before she died. She was a student who had hoped to work in childcare. She is survived by her parents. Her medical expenses were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The interesting piece of this case was that a time-limited settlement demand was made to Grange Mutual Casualty Co. to recover Dempsey’s $50,000/$100,000 insurance policy. The amount was a pittance to compensate for both the injuries to Woodard and the death of his daughter. However, the demand required that Grange Mutual pay the settlement, which was the policy limit, within ten days of acceptance. Grange Mutual sent a written acceptance on the day the demand was to expire. However, settlement proceeds did not arrive within ten days as required.

Woodard, individually, and together with his wife, sued Dempsey alleging that he chose not to remain in his lane of traffic and was driving too fast for the conditions.

The Woodards argued that Dempsey’s medical problems and his history of falling should have put him on notice that he should not have been driving cross-country. Dempsey suffered from long-time numbness and tingling in his feet.

Grange Mutual filed a declaratory judgment asserting that settlement had occurred in the case. However, the State Supreme Court ruled that no settlement had occurred within the time limit. As a result, the parties settled this case for $6.75 million days before the start of the scheduled jury trial.

The attorneys who successfully handled this tragic case were Michael Neff, D. Dwayne Adams, Susan Cremer and T. Shane Peagler.

Woodard v. Dempsey, No. 1:14-cv-03701-RWS (N.D. Ga. Jan. 26, 2018).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling catastrophic injury lawsuits, automobile and truck crash cases, wrongful death cases, motorcycle accident lawsuits and bicycle accident cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Melrose Park, Mundelein, North Chicago, Highland Park, Evanston, Elmhurst, Arlington Heights, Chicago (North Lawndale, Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Pilsen, Stockyards, Canaryville, Chinatown, Bronzeville, Bridgeport), Bedford Park, Burbank, Chicago Ridge and Crestwood, Ill.

Related blog posts:

Cook County Jury Award of $1.1 Million for Head-On Crash That Caused Shoulder Injury

$11 Million Settlement on the First Day of Trial in Truck Crash Resulting in Amputation Above the Knee

Chain-Reaction Collision Caused by Trucker Results in $17.4 Million Jury Verdict