Distracted Walking Pays Out Big

blog_texting_while_walking_fort_leePay attention, people… Or, don’t, get injured, and sue for outrageous damages.

Sounds silly, right? Well, for a Georgia jury, that scenario just landed a $161,000 pay day.

DeToya Moody of DeKalb County just won what could be a landmark precedent for jury damages in cases of texting negligence. While walking down the sidewalk and texting, Ms. Moody hit her head on the ladder of a bucket truck – – a stationary ladder, surrounded by orange cones, which she had passed three times before. Having suffered a concussion and post-traumatic headaches, she sued… and won… big.

You can read the full story here. The important take-away though is that juries can do some funny things.

At the outset, the truck company had offered $5,000. Ms. Moody’s attorney countered with $75,000. When settlement failed, the matter went to trial seeking $155,000 in damages. The jury felt even this amount was too low and awarded $161,000 (reduced from $175,000 for Ms. Moody’s 8% negligence in the injury). To appeal this award the truck company would have to show the judge to have ‘abused his or her discretion’ in allowing the jury’s award to stand (a difficult standard to win).

We certainly live in a litigious society, but there are reasons so few cases actually go to trial. Despite the facts and the law, one never truly knows how things will play out. In retrospect, and particularly after the costs and time of proceeding through trial, a $75,000 settlement might not have been so bad.