Jury returns verdict against Parkersburg, police officer for car accident

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 21, 2016

PARKERSBURG – A jury returned a verdict against the City of Parkersburg and one of its police officers last week for a car accident that caused injuries.

PARKERSBURG – A jury returned a verdict against the City of Parkersburg and one of its police officers last week for a car accident that caused injuries.

The trial lasted three days. The jury’s verdict was $213,887.50.

The lawsuit stemmed from a rear-end collision between a Parkersburg police car driven by Daniel W. Miller and local resident Kevin Allman that occurred on Aug. 22, 2013.

Charleston Attorney Harry Deitzler of Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler represented Allman.

“This was an unfortunate situation where a citizen was injured when a police car swerved around three lanes of stopped traffic stopped at the light at Lakeview and Murdoch and crashed into the back of a car that had pulled out of the Lakeview Shopping Center parking lot headed toward Parkersburg,” Deitzler said.

Deitzler said the well-intentioned officer thought that he was responding to an emergency call when he blew through the light.

“After the trial, the officer graciously apologized to the other driver, Kevin Allman, for all that he had been put through,” Deitzler said.

Deitzler said the city’s insurer, OneBeacon Insurance Group, should have done the right thing and resolved the matter more than three years ago, but instead they forced him to hire an attorney.

“They made us incur the cost of more than 20 depositions and the expense of medical testimony,” Deitzler said.

Deitzler said adding insult to injury, OneBeacon paid more than $10,000 for an "expert" witness to say that the Sheriff Department’s very experienced crash reconstructionist, Brett Pickens, was wrong when he concluded that there was nothing that Allman could have done to avoid being run down by the police car.

“The insurance company lawyers gave us a Wood County Crash Team report that did not include the names of the two eyewitnesses who stated that there was absolutely nothing that Kevin Allman could have done to have avoided being hit,” Deitzler said. “We would never have found out about those witnesses had we not subpoenaed the call records from Wood County 911 which included a recording of one of those witnesses reporting the crash and explaining that the police officer was flying and that it was clearly his fault.”

Deitzler said OneBeacon’s lawyers did everything within their power to make it financially impossible for Allman to make a valid claim for fair compensation.

“If it was not for the contingent fee system, there would have been no way in the world for him to ever make a claim or be reimbursed,” Deitzler said. “If Kevin would have had to pay attorney fees by the hour to pursue this claim, the cost would have approached $100,000. The out-of-pocket expense cost for deposition transcripts and videotapes, expert medical testimony, and other necessary expenditures will approach $15,000. If we would have also taken the deposition of the OneBeacon ‘expert,’ the cost would have gone up by another $5,000.”

Deitzler said there was no way any ordinary citizen could have afforded to advance those fees and costs.

“Shame on the OneBeacon insurance company for putting Kevin Allman, police officer Dan Miller, and the City of Parkersburg through all of this,” Deitzler said. “The jury’s verdict is $213,887.50, which is eminently fair. Kevin will repay all of the crash related medical bills out of that verdict. Unfortunately, he will also have to pay the substantial out-of-pocket case costs in addition to the usual contingent fee. All of those costs may increase in the event OneBeacon drags things out further by pursuing an appeal.”

Wood Circuit Court case number: 14-C-2790

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