$1.6 Million Settlement Reached in Fatal Head-On Car Collision
Yarborough Applegate attorneys David Yarborough and David Lail, alongside Shelly Leeke of Shelly Leeke Law Firm, recently reached a $1.6 million settlement for the widow of a 47-year-old Moncks Corner man who was tragically killed when another driver hit him head-on while illegally passing another vehicle. Notably, the settlement that resulted from this head-on collision included a $1.35 million contribution over the available policy limits by the liability carrier.
William “Art” Mullinax was driving home from his job at a steel plant when another driver, Quan Gibbs, crossed a double yellow line while attempting to pass a vehicle in front of him. Traveling 76 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone, Gibbs’ vehicle hit Mullinax’s in a head-on collision. Mullinax died at the scene.
Initially, Mullinax’s wife attempted to settle claims with Gibbs’ insurer for the full value of his insurance policy limits of $50,000. However, when Gibbs’ insurer, State Farm, failed to accept the offer in a timely manner, Mullinax withdrew her request and filed an offer of judgement for $1.5 million.
Under South Carolina’s Tyger River doctrine, failure to settle the case during the time allotted and for an amount within Gibbs’ policy limits could have exposed State Farm to a bad faith claim, if he wound up responsible for an excess verdict. While the insurer initially claimed that it hadn’t acted in bad faith––arguing Mullinax hadn’t been appointed representative of the estate, and the estate hadn’t even been opened, at the time of the demand––it ultimately settled for $1.4 million. The total aligns with a $1,437,384 estimate for Art Mullinax’s future loss of earning capacity and family services by Columbia economist Oliver Wood, Yarborough said.
“There’s absolutely no excuse for the reckless driving that we saw in this case. Unfortunately, a man’s life was tragically cut short because of it.” said Yarborough. “While his family is still mourning the loss a year after the accident, the money from this settlement can at least provide them some measure of financial security.”