Tort Law Case Study

Purpose

This project focuses on tort law, litigation, and investigating a claim prior to litigation. 

For this project, you will review relevant law, analyze facts and issues, and apply relevant law to facts. 

Outcomes Met by Completing this Assignment

  • evaluate tort claims using a wide variety of investigative techniques
  • develop and implement litigation plans to establish or defend against tort claims

Background:  Trice has asked you to assist with a client, Justin Mitchell, who is seeking help with his automobile negligence claim.

There are 2 parts to your assignment for Justin Mitchell’s case.

  • Part 1:  Claim Investigation
  • Part 2:  Demand Letter

Part 1:   Claim Investigation

Justin has provided information in response to your firm’s standard automobile negligence claim questionnaire. He has also signed a standard negligence retainer, medical authorizations, and releases for his employment information.

Facts:   On June 1, 2016, at 3 p.m., Justin Mitchell turned his Ford Escort from southbound Russell Avenue so that he was traveling westbound on a two-lane highway, Maryland Avenue, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Maryland Avenue has one lane of traffic in each direction. However, only one car can pass at a time when cars are parked on both sides of the road. Suddenly, Justin felt a sudden, jarring impact as the front left bumper of a blue Honda Accord, driven by Mary Myer, struck the right front of his Ford.

Mary’s vehicle struck Justin’s car with such force that Justin was thrown forward and backward inside his vehicle so that his head crashed into his headrest and his left hand struck the driver’s inside window. The front bumper of Mary’s Honda struck the front of Justin’s vehicle so that it crushed the right side of the Ford’s front bumper against the right front tire and pushed the car into a lamppost. It was impossible to drive the Ford, so it was towed from the scene by Big Bill’s Body Shop. 

Montgomery County Police Officer Freddy Friendly arrived at the scene within 20 minutes of the collision. Soon, other police officers arrived, and Mary gave one of the officers her driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance card. Her insurance card showed that she had personal injury protection for $2,500 and collision coverage with a $500 deductible. Mary also had bodily liability coverage for $20,000 per person/$40,000 aggregate with the Gecko Insurance Company effective until November 15, 2016. Justin gave Officer Friendly his insurance card, which showed that he had personal injury protection coverage for $2,500, collision coverage with a $250 deductible, and bodily liability coverage for $20,000 per person/$40,000 aggregate with the Cave Man Insurance Company effective until June 30, 2016.  

At the scene, Justin complained to Officer Friendly that his head, neck, and left hand hurt. The officer immediately summoned an ambulance.

While he was waiting for the ambulance, Justin gave the officer his version of how the collision occurred. Justin said that cars were parked on both sides of the road so that he was only able to travel 20 miles per hour as he traveled in the westbound lane of Maryland Avenue and approached the stop sign at the intersection of Highland Avenue. Even though his view was partially blocked by a large white van that was parked on the right side of the road immediately before an alley, Justin thought he saw a blue car entering Maryland Avenue from the alley to his right. Justin continued along Maryland Avenue without braking because he expected the blue car to stop before entering the roadway. Justin did not see the blue car stop. However, as Mary’s vehicle struck Justin’s car, he noticed that she was not looking in his direction.

After he spoke with Justin, the officer interviewed Mary, who gave a different version of the crash. Mary claimed that she stopped her vehicle at the end of the alley when she arrived at Maryland Avenue so that she could determine if it was safe to turn left onto Maryland Avenue. Mary admitted that her view of the roadway was partially blocked by a large white van parked to her left on Maryland Avenue. However, Mary indicated that she did not enter Justin’s lane of traffic even though she inched the front of her vehicle into Maryland Avenue until it was even with the left side of the parked white van. She claimed that Justin lost control of his vehicle so that it skidded, and the right front of the Ford struck the left front of her car where it was fully stopped, waiting to enter Maryland Avenue.  

Officer Friendly gave Mary a traffic ticket for failure to yield the right of way. Justin was rushed to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital by ambulance. Upon arrival at the hospital, Justin received emergency outpatient treatment that included a physical examination, three cervical x-rays, and two left hand x-rays. The x-rays were obtained by a radiologist employed by Drs. Crack and Bone, P.C. The day after the collision, Justin visited Dr. Oscar Orthopod, who diagnosed a cervical strain and a contusion to his left hand as a result of the collision. Justin continued to see Dr. Orthopod every three weeks from the date of his first visit until September 1, 2016. During his treatment, Dr. Orthopod referred Justin to the Spine Relief Center for physical therapy three times per week from June 2, 2016, until August 31, 2016. On September 1, 2016, Dr. Orthopod discharged Justin from treatment, only to return as needed. 

As a result of the incident, Justin missed two weeks of full-time (40 hours per week) employment as a professional golf instructor at the High Brow Country Club. He earned a weekly salary of $1,000 as a golf instructor.

Instructions:  Part 1 

After reviewing the facts in Justin’s case, prepare a list of what you need to do to open Justin’s file and the necessary steps to investigate this claim prior to litigation.  Submit the Summary Report to Trice for review.

Scroll down for details for report format. 

Part 2:   Demand Letter

Review additional facts in the Justin Mitchel case.

Facts:  Justin’s hospital bill is $525, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Department ambulance bill is $150, Dr. Orthopod’s total bill is $3,000, the Spine Relief Center’s bill is $2,250, and the bill for Drs. Crack and Bone, P.C., is $475. Justin also has a receipt for a payment that he made out-of-pocket for Tylenol with codeine for $10. Justin’s 2008 Ford Escort has a NADA value of $5,500.

Big Bill’s Body Shop charged Justin $550 to tow the Ford from the collision and to store it for 2 days. Justin also paid $250 to rent a vehicle from Cheap Ride Rental for 4 days until his car was repaired by the liability carrier. The liability carrier and Justin’s collision coverage estimates indicated that it cost $1,600 to repair his vehicle. The liability carrier paid for the repairs to Justin’s Ford and the rental vehicle expense. But the insurer has refused to reimburse Justin for the vehicle towing and storage.

Instructions:  Part 2 

Write a demand letter to the liability carrier on behalf of Justin.

For the content and format for a demand letter, refer to the Demand Letter Sample link above or in Overview.

 ——————————–

Format  – Summary Report (Part 1 – Claim Investigation)

Summary Report

TO:       Taylor Trice, Esq.

FROM:  (your name), Paralegal

RE:      Justin Mitchell Claim Investigation

DATE:

Use subheadings and label each part of each report as follows: 

Part I:  Opening Client File

Part II:  Investigating Claim Prior to Litigation

 __________________________________________________________

Create a Word or Rich Text Format (RTF) document that is double-spaced, 12-point Arial or Times New Roman.  There is no page requirement.  Write clearly and concisely.

Include a title page with your name, course/section number, date.

Use in text citations for information taken from published resources; you may APA (see How to Use APA in Course Resources in Content) or insert the URL for any internet resources.

Include a References list of cited resources. (See How to Use APA in Course Resources in Content.)

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