On December 21, 2011, Wayne Nichols suffered significant injuries when a car driven by Andrew Fannin ran a stop sign and collided with Mr. Nichols vehicle as he was entering an intersection in Henry County. Mr. Nichols’s most significant injuries from the collision were to his knee and neck. He suffered a severe MCL strain in his knee, as well as three disc herniations in his neck that resulted a three-level cervical fusion surgery.
Mr. Fannin, who was 19 years old and a member of the United States Marine Corps at the time of the collision, had minimal insurance limits for his vehicle. After Mr. Fannin’s insurer failed to respond timely to a settlement demand for his insurance policy limits of $25,000, PCW filed suit on behalf of Mr. Nichols in the State Court of Henry County. The case first went to trial in September 2015; liability was conceded, so the only question was the amount of damages. At trial, defense counsel hired an orthopedic surgeon to contest causation of Mr. Nichols’s neck injury. A mistrial was ordered by the court when the jury could not reach a unanimous decision on the amount of damages.
The case was tried again in July 2016. At the second trial, in addition to the orthopedic expert, counsel for the defendant hired a biomechanical engineer to contest the causation of Mr. Nichols neck injury. The second trial, too, ended in a mistrial after the jury again could not reach a unanimous decision on the amount of damages.
Where many lawyers would have walked away from a case or revisited the possibility of settling for close to the $25,000 policy limits, PCW was not so easily discouraged and continued its pursuit of justice for its client. Following the second trial, the defendant resigned from the Marines and moved to Florida. Mr. Nichols dismissed the case from Henry County and refiled in Federal District Court in the Northern District of Georgia. The case was tried for a third time in November 2017. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Nichols the amount of $1.4 million. A motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses exceeding $400,000 is currently pending before the court. The case is Nichols v. Fannin, No. 1:16-cv-4700-JSA (N.D. Ga.).