Never assume anything

This case came into my life when two broken-hearted parents endured the unimaginable loss of their child, a loving, beautiful, twenty-one-year-old culinary student, killed in a tragic auto accident which resulted in multiple deaths. Every party involved had a lawyer. Every party involved was looking for someone responsible for the loss of their family member.

All first impressions signaled to me this horrific accident might result in a minimal recovery if any. How do you tell a family about the unfortunate reality – there may be no case? We kept pushing. As the facts unfolded and our independent investigation continued, we were able to connect the right dots and uncover more than one million dollars of coverage. While, unfortunately, this is not the case for most clients, we try our best to explore each and every option available.

Pressures soon began to come from all different directions in the case. Teams of attorneys for the insurance companies disputed full responsibility and insensitively devalued the financial worth of our client’s daughter’s life. Another Plaintiff’s attorney (for the driver of the second vehicle who died), more than 20 years my senior in practice and age, attempted to push his agenda on me to pursue joint litigation solely against the boyfriend driver. Participating in this direction would have led to a faster /easier route to the insurance company’s money by “strength in numbers” but a lesser share of recovery to my clients and more importantly, eliminating a key culpable party – the driver of the second vehicle.

While there is no formula for calculating the value of a person’s life, each individual case is unique in its facts and circumstances. As far as I was concerned, our clients’ daughter was the only innocent human involved in the incident that day – a faultless passenger in her boyfriend’s vehicle taken for her last car ride. Her future life stolen, and pieces of her parents’ lives left empty. The boyfriend sped southbound on State Route 79, alongside a second responsible and aggressive vehicle traveling too closely in the same direction. The two cars equally raged on the highway that day, and both were equally responsible for our clients’ daughter’s loss of life.

We stuck to our position and asked all of the entire available money to be paid to our clients solely. Again, while this is not the typical result, in this case, we were successful in our efforts. This case continues to give me confidence for future cases. It is not the amount of the settlement that sticks with me but rather a few reminders – you will never know the end results of a case until you do the work, the number of years of practice of an attorney doesn’t make a better lawyer, settling for “a” recovery is never our goal but the best recovery given the circumstances, and while no amount of money will ever bring back a loved one, what’s right can bring a sense of calm and closure in a time of great uncertainty.

– Pamela Abella