Craig D. Brown and Michael W. Lenert of Meyers & Flowers obtained a $7,000,000.00 settlement on behalf of a 6-year-old Illinois boy struck by a commercial semi-tractor trailer while he was riding a motorized scooter.
On September 19, 2017, six-year-old Charlie went over to his friend Johnny’s house in rural Illinois to play after school. Johnny lived on a truck route in a residential neighborhood. Johnny’s great grandmother was at the home to supervise the two boys. While playing in the back yard, Johnny went into the unlocked garage and started driving a 12-volt motorized scooter up and down the driveway. Although Charlie had just learned how to ride a bike two weeks prior, he wanted to take a turn riding the scooter. Tragically, Charlie, not knowing how to control the scooter, began to drive the scooter down the driveway. As Charlie sped down the driveway, he attempted to stop the scooter by dragging his feet. Unfortunately, Charlie was unable to stop and ultimately entered the roadway where he was run over by an 18-wheel semi-tractor trailer.
It is a miracle Charlie survived the crash, but his injuries can only be described as permanent and catastrophic. He suffered multiple orthopedic fractures, internal bleeding, and a complete disconnection of his urethra from his bladder. Furthermore, he suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that caused permanent and substantial cognitive deficits. He underwent dozens of surgeries, but unfortunately his injuries will leave him dependent on his loved ones for basic needs for the rest of his life.
“Both my wife and I had tragedy strike when our son was hit by a semi tanker,” said Charlie’s father. Though our son made it out alive, we were met with a large healthcare lien from the hospital. We were referred out to Meyers & Flowers and from the beginning of our case the team was understanding with our availability and were willing to help us out in any way possible.” The Meyers & Flowers team led by Craig Brown and Michael Lenert worked on Charlie’s case for over 3 years and investigated every possible legal cause of the crash.
Initially, their efforts focused on the homeowner’s insurance policies. According to Craig Brown, “Johnny’s parents and grandparents were one of the legal causes of Charlie's catastrophic injuries. Johnny’s parents were negligent because they allowed their young son to have unsupervised access to a dangerous motor scooter. That scooter should have been locked in the garage and not used without adult supervision. Moreover, Johnny’s grandmother was also a legal cause of the crash because she failed to supervise Johnny and Charlie who were only 6 years old. Fortunately, we were able to convince the homeowner’s insurance company to pay their full $1 million policy at the outset. We used this money to help Charlie obtain the best medical care possible while we continued to investigate all potential causes of action.”
Mr. Brown and Mr. Lenert specifically investigated a potential case against the driver of the semi-tractor and his employer. The driver told the investigating police officer that he never saw Charlie before the impact and that after he felt a bump, he slowed down, looked in his side mirror and saw Charlie laying in the street. The driver claimed he kept a proper lookout to his right as he was heading down the truck route, but his view of Charlie was obstructed by trees and a minivan that was parked in Johnny’s front yard.
“When I initially contacted the insurance company of the driver, I was told the driver did nothing wrong, that the accident was unavoidable as the driver did not have an opportunity to see Charlie prior to the impact, and that consequently the insurance company was never going to pay to settle the case despite the fact that there was $6 million of liability coverage. Given the carrier’s steadfast refusal to consider the merits of our claim, it was necessary for us to litigate this matter to establish the liability of its insured and convince the carrier that they had grossly misevaluated the claim,” said Craig.
To prove the truck driver could have stopped his 18-wheeler before Charlie entered the roadway had the driver kept a proper lookout, Mr. Brown and Mr. Lenert hired a team of experts who utilized state-of-the-art technology to prove what really happened that tragic day. According to Mr. Brown, “We had our experts drive the same type of truck down that road on the 1-year anniversary of the crash and they videotaped the visibility from inside the cab. We also flew a drone down the street to capture exactly what the truck driver would have seen when he was driving down the road. Our accident reconstruction expert then helped us establish that the driver should have been able to see Charlie at the top of the driveway when Charlie first began to drive the scooter down the driveway. Through these efforts, we proved Charlie was visible for 7 seconds prior to the time of impact and the driver could have stopped his truck, which was traveling 30 mph, had he reacted properly when seeing Charlie at the top of the driveway.”
“Through the opinions of our retained experts, we were able to create a three-dimensional computer model of the events leading up to the crash. We were able to ultimately establish that if the driver had detected the electric scooter when leaving from the garage or his friend running down the driveway and began to slow, he would have been able to stop prior to reaching the area where the incident occurred.”
Mr. Brown and Mr. Lenert also presented the evidence to several focus groups and conducted a mock trial to learn how potential jurors would most likely interpret the evidence. According to Mr. Lenert, “What became apparent was that we needed to clearly show the jury that the driver of the truck, despite only having seven seconds to react, had ample time to appreciate the hazard of the children playing on the driveway and respond appropriately to avoid this tragedy.”
Shortly before trial was to be scheduled, the same insurance company which initially denied the claim, agreed to pay its full $6 million liability policy. “While we cannot go back in time and prevent this crash and Charlie's catastrophic injuries, we are pleased that our thorough investigation, analysis, and prosecution of this crash, including the retention of some of the top experts in the country who utilized cutting edge technology, convinced the defense that they should tender their full policy limits as opposed to proceeding to a jury trial. This allowed us to secure a settlement that will allow Charlie's parents to give their son the best available medical care and treatment for the rest of his life,” said Mr. Lenert.
“Meyers & Flowers is a firm with a dream team of experts for every situation. I know the case with our son was an uphill battle with a lot of grey area, but they were able to get the job done with experts proving the case from our standpoint. Craig has kept constant contact with me on every aspect of my son's case and thought of different approaches to evidence that I would have never dreamed of. He even made himself available to come to our house when driving to Chicago wasn't possible with our busy schedule. The team was very professional and human! They treated us like real people rather than just another client. They listened to our pleas for help, and he made sure to fight for us to better our son's future,” said Charlie’s parents.
Accident law is complex, with many intricacies to navigate. As a law firm with over 20 years of experience helping victims of auto accidents, we have the skills needed to protect your rights and ensure you are fully compensated both now and in the future. If you or a family member needs additional information on Meyers & Flowers experience in car crash or trucking accident litigation, please contact us today at [email protected] or at 877-221-2511.