When a person dies as a result of an auto accident, a slip and fall, or other injury claim, there are numerous steps that need to be taken before a wrongful death claim can be asserted. An Estate must be established for the decedent and an Administrator must be appointed and approved by the Court. Because wrongful death claims can be worth many millions of dollars, critical evidence has to be preserved as soon as possible, and witness statements need to be taken while the person’s recollection is still fresh.
Because of their potential value, when wrongful death claims are asserted, the insurance carriers regularly utilize the services of defense law firms that have decades of experience. The only way to combat this is to hire an attorney who has gone up against such firms, and won.
Mr. Achrem has now been trying cases in California and Nevada for 43 years – and counting. He and his firm have tried and settled numerous wrongful death cases in both states and obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for the decedent’s heirs.
In a case Mr. Achrem and Tom Wire took to trial against the State of California, a young woman was driving home along Highway 101 in Santa Maria, California, to celebrate her one year wedding anniversary. After another driver accidentally tapped the rear end of the vehicle the woman was driving, it veered off the highway and struck a breakaway cable terminal (BCT). California, Nevada and other states throughout the country utilize BCTs to lessen the impact when they are struck. The BCTs consist of a series of wooden posts that are set into concrete molds beneath the ground. Cables are then fed through 5 1/4″ holes that are drilled into the centers of wooden posts and affixed to the ground. When a vehicle strikes the BCT, the already-weakened posts break, the cable stretches out and the vehicle decelerates as slowly as possible until it comes to rest, protecting the occupant’s bodily organs. In this case, the BCT was defective. Instead of breaking when the woman’s vehicle came into contact with it, the BCT speared the vehicle and vaulted it into the air. The woman died on the scene. When she failed to arrive at home, her husband went to search for her. He later found her, hanging upside down with her seatbelt still fully fastened. During the trial, the State’s attorney argued that more than 50,000,000 vehicles had safely passed by the very same BCT, without a single incident. In response, Mr. Achrem reminded the jury that, on the one occasion it was actually tested, it had failed, which means that the BCT had a 100% failure rate. After deliberating for less than a day, the jury came back with what was then the largest multi-million dollar verdict in Santa Maria history. The State of California subsequently spent more than $50,000,000.00 upgrading and replacing hundreds of other BCTs along Highway 101, saving countless lives.
In another case Mr. Achrem handled in Nevada, the drivers of an 18-wheeler and a truck were traveling southbound on Interstate 15, weaving in and out of traffic at speeds in excess of 80 mph. At the same time, a 19-year old college student (the first ever in her family’s history) had just entered the freeway and was safely in her lane, traveling at the posted 65-mph speed limit. Suddenly and without warning, she was clipped from behind by the 18-wheeler. Unable to maintain control of the vehicle, her car struck a large tree located inside the median, resulting in her death.
After obtaining the truck driver’s full policy limits, the case was later confidentially settled in mediation for many millions of dollars. A structured settlement was then set up for the college student’s mother.
Wrongful death cases are some of the most complicated and expensive areas of the law and the deceased’s family should consult with an experienced attorney. Edward J. Achrem & Associates, Ltd. has been litigating cases for more than four decades and we have the skills, resources and litigation experience necessary to help our clients in even the most complicated cases.
Call (702) 734-3936 today for a free consultation. If you’re outside Nevada, dial (888) 734-6789.