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Amanda Graham obtains a defense verdict in a disputed liability and causation motor vehicle accident case. The matter was tried in the Circuit Court of Etowah County before Judge George C. Day in September of 2022.

The suit arose out of a two-vehicle accident that occurred on Highway 431 at the intersection of East Air Depot Road in Etowah County, Alabama, on October 19, 2016. The defendant, Joseph Benjamin Watson, driving a tri-axle dump truck owned by Richards Trucking, LLC, testified that he was driving behind the plaintiff on the day of the accident, and witnessed the plaintiff “driving erratically” – swerving, stopping and starting suddenly, and waiving a flip phone in his hand. The defendant testified he drove behind the plaintiff for approximately one mile, unable to change lanes due to traffic, before the accident occurred when the plaintiff stopped suddenly at a green light for apparently no reason. The defendant applied his brakes, jake brakes, and blew his horn, but was unable to stop in time before hitting the plaintiff in the rear. The defendant argued that he did not do anything negligent leading up to this accident, as he was operating his vehicle safely and reasonably, and tried to stop when the plaintiff stopped suddenly in front of him.


The plaintiff disputed that the accident happened this way; he denied being on his phone (although he did testify that he had a flip phone and not a smart phone), and he denied stopping at a green light. He testified that he stopped at a red light and was “hit suddenly” by the Defendant, who “came out of nowhere.” The officer testified that he found the Defendant at fault for following too closely.


All claims except for negligence against Joseph Watson and Richards Trucking, LLC, had been dismissed prior to trial through dispositive motions.


The plaintiff claimed an annular tear at L4-5 in his back as a result of this accident, as well as mental anguish while driving, trouble sleeping, and an inability to carry out his work as he did before the accident occurred – he was a trader and would travel around the state trading coins, watches, etc. Although the plaintiff had treated at various facilities over the years following the accident, including receiving injections, the only medical testimony came from Dr. Pascual Herrera, of Quality of Life, who had only seen the plaintiff one time for 30-45 minutes a few years after the accident, and reviewed the plaintiff’s medical records. He testified the annular tear was caused by the accident. Dr. Herrera further testified that the plaintiff had reached maximum medical improvement and was not a surgical candidate. No medical bills were entered during the trial of the case. The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s annular tear was degenerative in nature, supported by various medical records from other providers where the plaintiff had sought treatment.


The plaintiff asked the jury to find in favor of the plaintiff and award $250,000. The jury deliberated for about two hours before returning a verdict in favor of the Defendants.

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