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Determination Pays Off: Napa Mom Receives $8M Jury Verdict in Street Sweeper Crash Case

A Northern California mother, injured in a fiery crash when a street sweeper made a U-turn and hit her SUV, fought for nearly two years to obtain compensation for the harm she suffered. In the end, despite the defense’s attempts to paint the mother as partly at fault and its extremely low settlement offers, the jury found for the plaintiff and returned a damages award of $8.3 million for her past and future harm, according to the Napa Valley Register and


The accident that triggered this lawsuit was a fiery crash along Highway 221 in Napa County. A 33-year-old mother and counselor with the county probation department was driving northbound on the highway when a street sweeper vehicle, which had been cleaning up gravel from a merge lane, executed a U-turn that caused the vehicle to hit the mother’s GMC SUV. The SUV caught fire, and two helpful passersby pulled the mom and her son from the burning vehicle.

The mother had not been able to extract herself or her son from the SUV because the impact had caused her to suffer multiple fractures, in addition to contusions and abrasions. The injuries were severe enough that she had multiple surgeries before her trial, with an estimated 6-10 more in her future, including an ankle fusion and knee replacement. The mother sued the street sweeping company for her injuries. She alleged that, since the driver was on duty when the wreck occurred, the employer was responsible, and the driver’s negligence was 100% to blame for the accident. Additionally, she produced evidence in her case that her injuries caused her to lose her job with the county.

In cases like this, even when liability might seem pretty clear-cut, the defendant may have deep resources and may choose to fight aggressively. The company’s insurer in this case did exactly that. The insurance company retained two different experts whose testimony was intended to bolster the defense claim that the mother was at least partially at fault because she was distracted by a hands-free cell phone device and did not react promptly to the street sweeper vehicle.

Despite the defense’s strong efforts to blame the mother’s driving, the mother did not give up on her case. After the defense sent her a low settlement offer of $600,000, she did not give up and simply take the deal. She went forward and took her case to trial. After a 19-day trial, the jury returned a verdict that demonstrated that the mother’s unwavering pursuit had been worthwhile. The jury found the defendant 100% liable and concluded that the mother’s economic damages exceeded $2.56 million, and her non-economic damages were $5.75 million.

When you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, you can likely presume that the other side will fight aggressively in its defense. That’s why you need experienced injury counsel on your side, providing you with determined and zealous representation at every step along the way. The hardworking and knowledgeable San Mateo car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos have been working on behalf of injured people in California for many years and are ready to help you. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

California Excavation Worker Injured After Driver Hit Him Receives $56 Million Jury Verdict, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 7, 2017

Southern California Jury Hands Down $26M Verdict in Case of Teen’s Wrongful Death Aboard Sightseeing Bus, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published Jan. 4, 2017

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