Three days into the trial for an automobile accident case that killed a mother and critically injured her daughter, a multi-million dollar settlement was reached by firm Partners Howard Coker and Jim Daniel. The case dates back to September 13, 2002, when life for the Andreu family changed in a cruel instant.
Mary Andreu, a 55 year-old mother of three, was driving in downtown Jacksonville accompanied by her 19 year-old daughter, Maria, when another driver “t-boned” the driver’s side of their vehicle. Mary and Maria were hit by a petroleum company employee who was operating a company-owned van. Mary received blunt force trauma to her chest, abdomen, and pelvis; she died on September 27 at Shands Hospital of complications from these injuries. Maria Andreu survived the accident but sustained traumatic neurological injuries that have rendered her psychologically impaired and permanently disabled.
Pursuing the case on behalf of the Andreu family required in-depth investigation to uncover exactly what happened, especially as there were contradictory statements following the accident. Mrs. Andreu asserted that the other driver ran the stop light at the intersection. In contradiction, the defendant driver claimed that he was proceeding on the green light. The defense also alleged that Mary and Maria were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident, and that this contributed to the severity of their injuries. With certainty that the evidence in the case did not support opposing counsel’s claim, Jim Daniel responded by filing and then obtaining a motion for summary judgement on the seat belt defense.
Another important factor in the case was that Mrs. Andreu’s rate of speed was only 12 mph – indicative of someone who had stopped and was just starting to accelerate again. On the other hand, the defendant driver was traveling at a rate of between 35 and 40 mph, at least five miles over the limit. In fact, our firm’s expert Accident Reconstructionist proved that if the defendant had been observing the speed limit, the accident would never have occurred. This would have held true even if Mrs. Andreu had run the red light, as the defense claimed. The defendant driver’s careless driving devastated the Andreu family. Howard Coker said, “The critically-needed recovery in this case will help provide a life-time of care for Maria Andreu; of course it can never repair the loss and damage done to this close-knit family.”