Background of Turner v. Hamstead

This was a wrongful death car accident case on Falls Road in Towson (just outside of Baltimore) involving the death of a man in his mid-70s. The Defendant, who we deposed, was a really nice, decent family man who simply made an awful mistake. While driving home, he lost his attention to where his vehicle was and crossed the center line causing this fatal and tragic accident. In deposition, the Defendant claimed that decedent crossed the center line. But it was weird; it was more like he was trying to convince himself than convince me. He didn't.

More on Wrongful Death
  • Sample Wrongful Death Lawsuit
  • 5 Things You Need to Know About Motor Vehicle Wrongful Death Cases
  • Cap on Non-Economic Damages
  • Medical Mistake Cap
  • Maryland Wrongful Death Statute
  • Learn More on These Claims

The Defendant had a $300,000 policy with GEICO, who did what they do and refused to offer the entire policy. The Defendant’s lawyer for GEICO argued that (1) there was no definitive proof that the Defendant was negligent (he was found not guilty in the criminal trial), and (2) that the decedent’s daughter was not a deserving beneficiary because they had what Defendant’s lawyer politely argued to be a “complicated relationship.” The source of their information was the facts provided by decedent’s live-in girlfriend of many years and her children, a woman stung by the fact that after many years with this man, she had no rights to compensation for his death.

Defendant’s lawyer filed a motion for summary judgment on the survival action because there was no evidence that he had experienced physical pain and suffering before his death after the car accident, and, accordingly, his estate could not recover. We successfully contended in this motion that his pre-impact fright before the accident was sufficient to send the survival claim to the jury.

The significance of this ruling is it increased the potential damages in the case given Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages. This helped us to leverage the potential bad faith claim against GEICO in the event that we succeed at trial. A few days before the trial, GEICO increased their offer to $285,000 and the case settled. Part of what got this deal done was that the Defendant’s lawyer did the right thing and pushed GEICO to increase their offer.

wrongful death car accident The initial offer in the case from GEICO was $125,000. I always find it annoying when someone says they are “offended” by an offer. But I have to say, I was offended by this offer and I was pretty mad at the GEICO adjuster – someone I’ve had cases with before - who made the offer. After the case settled, we were talking on the phone about another case and this case came up. We discussed – some would say argued – the case for about 30 minutes. The exercise was actually productive, and at least I saw where the adjuster was coming from on this case.

Interestingly, GEICO was a little moralistic about suggesting that as a condition of the settlement, my client should pay back the decedent’s girlfriend for the funeral expenses that she incurred. We refused to make it a part of the settlement, either formally or informally. But our client paid the funeral expenses anyway out of her settlement in the case.

Related Links to this Case:
Client Reviews
They quite literally worked as hard as if not harder than the doctors to save our lives. Terry Waldron
Ron helped me find a clear path that ended with my foot healing and a settlement that was much more than I hope for. Aaron Johnson
Hopefully I won't need it again but if I do, I have definitely found my lawyer for life and I would definitely recommend this office to anyone! Bridget Stevens
The last case I referred to them settled for $1.2 million. John Selinger
I am so grateful that I was lucky to pick Miller & Zois. Maggie Lauer
The entire team from the intake Samantha to the lawyer himself (Ron Miller) has been really approachable. Suzette Allen
The case settled and I got a lot more money than I expected. Ron even fought to reduce how much I owed in medical bills so I could get an even larger settlement. Nchedo Idahosa