Many accidents in Georgia are caused by drunk or distracted driving. However, a careless move like an improper lane change can cause a very serious wreck.

Recently an Olympic high jumper was awarded one of the highest jury verdicts in Troup Superior Court in central Georgia against a driver who injured him when he made a careless lane change, reported the La Grange News.

David Adley Smith took part in the 2016 Olympics as a high jumper representing Puerto Rico. He was awarded $2 million by a jury in August after a car crash on I-85 that caused serious injuries.

Lawyers for Smith said attempts by the defense counsel to downplay how talented the athlete was failed.

The high humper was hurt in a crash after another driver changed lanes on 1-85 South, striking Smith’s 2003 Honda Accord in the passenger side rear door. Smith’s vehicle was sent into a spin and veered off onto the shoulder of I-85. The accident report stated the at-fault driver said he didn’t see Smith’s vehicle.

Jumper suffered injury in I-85 crash

High jump champion suffered injured n I-85 crash

The crash left Smith suffering ongoing problems including serious pain in his left hip and other issues on his right side. Smith sustained an avulsion fracture of his left hip. He returned to competition after extensive rehabilitation, but the pain he was experiencing never subsided.

Eventually, Smith visited medical professionals at Emory Southern Orthopedics in LaGrange for a second opinion, reported La Grange News.

The doctors told him a bone chip from the fracture sustained in the collision did not heal properly. Smith underwent surgery to correct the problem earlier this year.

Smith fought through the pain barrier. The report stated he won two SEC Championships in the high jump after the wreck. He competed for Puerto Rico in the Olympics to honor his grandfather.

His attorney said his accomplishments after the wreck, despite his physical limitations resonated with the jury.

After the Olympics in 2016, Smith visited Emory to get a second look at why he was in pain. He felt the injury had impacted his performance and could have achieved even greater success were it not for the car crash.

In Georgia, juries consider three types of auto accident injury losses, namely:

  1. Special damages. These damages cover economic losses, such as past and future medical expenses, funeral costs and lost earnings. In the case of an athlete, they can reflect the damage to a career.
  2. General damages. This area includes non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress to the victim, disfigurement or the loss of society and companionship of a loved one in a wrongful death suit.
  3. Punitive damages. These damages are intended to punish and deter a defendant and others from engaging in willful misconduct that endangers others. It’s reserved for extreme cases. Georgia law typically caps the amount recoverable at $250,000. However, there is no cap on punitive damages in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against a drunk driver.

Every year, car crashes kill and maim people in Georgia. If you have been hurt in a wreck, please call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.