Daphne man wins $5M lawsuit against insurance company over car crash
A Daphne man who was badly injured in a traffic accident in Washington County more than two years ago has won a $5 million civil verdict.
A Washington County jury earlier this month awarded the damages after trial that pitted Frank Shepard Jr. against the insurance company of his employer, Shred-It.
Shepard argued that Auto-Owners Insurance should cover his medical costs, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.
“He can use this money to get his life back together,” plaintiff’s lawyer Mike Windom said last week. “If anybody ever deserved it, it was this kid.”
Because Shepard, 28, reached a settlement with the estate of the other driver, the maximum amount of that driver’s insurance — $2.25 million — will be deducted from the verdict. Thus, Auto-Owners Insurance would be responsible for paying him $2.75 million.
Ed Bowron, a lawyer for Auto-Owners Insurance, said that it would seek to reduce the damage award.
The wreck occurred Dec. 3, 2008, near Fruitdale as Shepard was driving on U.S. 45 on his way to Waynesboro, Miss., to meet a Shred-It customer.
A Cadillac driven by Beverly King Johnson appeared from behind a hill, in the wrong lane, and collided head-on with Shepard’s truck. Johnson was fatally injured.
No one contested Johnson’s fault, Windom said. Instead, the issue was how much compensation that Shepard deserved.
Windom said the crash broke his client’s leg in two places, fractured his foot, shattered his jaw and broke or damaged 24 of his 28 teeth. The impact was so powerful, Windom said, that some of Shepard’s teeth went through his jaw and into his neck.
The lawyer said Shepard has made good progress but has a long recovery ahead of him. He already has had three surgeries on his jaw and will need multiple dental procedures.
“It’s two years later, and he’s still having surgeries,” Windom said.
Windom and his law partner, Desi Tobias, tried the case. The Mobile lawyers also had help from lawyer Tom Baxter, a former Washington County Circuit Court judge. “He was key,” Windom said.