Bringing a Claim to a Complete Stop
In a recent victory, Smith Freed Eberhard partner Katie Buxman’s team achieved a defense verdict through teamwork, diligent discovery, and effective use of expert affidavit at arbitration.
The Background Story
This case started out with an issue that tends to cause trouble in Washington litigation. Specifically, a claimant was unable to segregate which portions of her injuries were related to which of the three accidents she was involved in. If the claimant was found to be fault-free, the multiple defendants would be found jointly and severally liable for her injuries. The only way to avoid that mess was to either pin fault on the claimant or show that the insured was without fault.
The first step in Team Buxman’s strategy was to engage in thorough discovery to uncover an argument that would prove the insured was fault-free. Paralegal Megan Shaw stepped up to the plate to help find the answer Team Buxman needed. She worked up the case thoroughly and uncovered a piece of evidence that corroborated the insured’s story. Specifically, she discovered that the insured’s vehicle had a “black box,” an onboard computer that recorded discrete movement data before and after the subject collision. After uncovering this evidence, an expert witness was retained to accurately decipher the recording on the black box and develop an affidavit stating that the insured’s vehicle was stopped at the time of the collision. This is where Attorney Gordon Klug stepped up. He worked with the expert witness to develop the affidavit into an effective tool to wield at arbitration.
The expert witness found data on the vehicle’s black box that showed her vehicle was at a complete stop before reporting a collision. Attorney Gordon Klug utilized the expert affidavit at the arbitration and explained to the arbitration panel that the insured could not have been responsible for a rear-end collision if she was not moving. Rather, the defense’s position reflected the insured’s recollection that the claimant had struck her vehicle when the claimant drove in reverse. Through effective use of the arbitration documents and persuasive arguments, Team Buxman was able to convince the arbitration panel that the insured was 0% at fault for the accident.
The arbitrator filed an award in favor of the claimant for $40,000. However, the arbitrator simultaneously found that the insured was fault-free. Accordingly, a defense verdict was awarded to Team Buxman and the remaining co-defendants were pinned with joint and several liability. Team Buxman’s diligence, teamwork, attention to detail, and convincing arguments led to another success.