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Tim GarveySean DormerJesse Wilson

Tim Garvey · Sean Dormer · Jesse Wilson

Trusting the Truth: How embracing Jesse Wilson's Victim to Victor approach turned an $80,000.00 offer into a $2.5M post-trial settlement

TLU Icon August 2, 2024 5:30 PM||Zoom Logo

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Two weeks before his 38th birthday, Joe Tibbits' life was changed forever when he was rammed from behind by an inattentive driver who caused a five-car pileup in a highway construction zone. He suffered no broken bones, but he had two disc bulges (which the defense argued were likely degenerative). Like most people with grit and determination, Joe did his best to get on with life, but despite his best efforts at getting better, his back continued to get worse. After a year of treatment (with an average of three visits a month during that time), Joe's doctors told him there wasn't anything they could do for him other than surgery. But, still under 40 at the time with a fiance and two kids he was raising, Joe wasn't keen on the idea of back surgery, so he stopped treating and just kept working and living in pain. in September of 2022, Joe finally had enough and decided to get the surgery, but he was turned away because his blood pressure was too high. By the time of trial in June of 2024–five years after the crash—Joe still hadn't had the surgery and the defense, believing he would never have the surgery, never offered us more than $80,000.00. Interesting side note, the trial in June of 2024 was the second trial. The first trial ended in a mistrial a year earlier, when the Defendant, during our opening statement, turned to his attorney and said, "that's not how the crash happened" and then showed him pictures on his phone that had never been disclosed. Not only did that cause a mistrial, it resulted in State Farm paying us over $50,000.00 in costs, too.

Still, the case had a lot to be afraid of: (1) a hardworking client (a drywall installer) who never stopped working and even started his own business after the crash; (2) a well-known and well-respected defense doctor who said our client was all better before his year-long "gap in treatment"; (3) a recommendation for future laminectomies, but a client who had zero surgeries five years after the crash; (4) a messy five-car pileup with no photos of the vehicles' post-crash alignment; and (5) a defense accident reconstructionist who was adamant that he got it right the first time and that our expert was fumbling his way through five different theories trying to find a way to make it all work.

Throughout the trial, we trusted the truth. We trusted the fact that Joe was working hard and doing everything he could to support his family and not burden his boss/brother-in-law, which is what made him start his own company. We trusted the fact that the defense doctor was disingenuous and we were able to expose that at trial when he confessed that he couldn't even read the MRIs. We trusted the fact that Joe had real fears about having back surgery in his early 40s. We trusted the fact that our client got sandwiched in the pileup, was hurt, and it wasn't his fault. We trusted the fact that the defense accident recon was sticking to his original theory, despite the mounting evidence and his failure to follow the scientific method in the face of new evidence.

In the end, we trusted the jury to find the truth. And, it did. In closing, the defense asked the jury to assess damages at less than $50,000 with 51% liability against our client (which, under Colorado law, would have meant he got nothing). Instead, the jury appraised the value of our client's injuries at over $2.1M with over half of that amount for non-economic damages and just 10% liability assessed against Joe. The best part: having properly opened the policy, State Farm paid us over $2.5M (on a $1M policy) within a month of the verdict.

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