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Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C.

Kalamazoo Family Awarded Settlement in Fatal Car Accident Case

Case Type: Kalamazoo Fatal Accident Settlement

Settlement: $20,000 for the Estate of Jayden Johnson; $10,000 for Jewel Cotton; $10,000 for Christopher Adams

Plaintiff: Jewel Cotton, Jayden Johnson, Christopher Adams, Jr.
Defendant: Nicole Camden
Case Number: 2016-0790-DE
Judge: Judge Curtis J. Bell
Location: Kalamazoo County Probate Court
Date of Settlement: May 15, 2017

Facts of the Case

On April 1, 2016, Jewel Cotton was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle being driven by Nicole Camden, along with co-claimants - the two back-seat passengers - Christopher Adams, Jr. (age 6 on the date of loss and in pro per) and Jayden Johnson (age 4 on the date of loss and also represented by The Buckfire Law Firm), when Ms. Camden began speeding, lost control of the vehicle, and collided into a retaining wall on U.S.-131, flipping the vehicle several times in Kalamazoo Township, Michigan.

Sadly, young Jayden Johnson was ejected from the vehicle and did not survive this terrible crash. Both Jewel Cotton and Christopher Adams, Jr. sustained serious psychological injuries arising out of the collision.

Thereafter, the Estate of Jayden Johnson, Jewel Cotton, and Christopher Adams, Jr. all brought tort claims for their personal injuries against the woefully underinsured Nicole Camden, whose liability insurance carrier – Esurance – tendered the paltry policy limits of $20,000.00 per person/$40,000.00 per occurrence without hesitation.

The Estate of Jayden Johnson received the maximum amount of recovery allowable under the Esurance insurance policy, $20,000.00, and Jewel Cotton and Christopher Adams, Jr. equally split the remaining $20,000.00 available pursuant to Esurance’s coverage.

Types of Injuries and Harm Suffered

  • Jewel Cotton: psychological damages, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression
  • Jayden Johnson: death
  • Christopher Adams, Jr: unknown, as this claimant represented himself through these proceedings, vis-a-vis his aunt who acted as his Next Friend

Other Types of Damages

  • Loss of Consortium damages for the wrongful death heirs, including a two-year old half-brother of the decedent

Legal Issues in the Case

  • Coordinating of Court hearing dates with the in pro per claimant, ensuring that Mr. Adams had a Next Friend appointed to represent his interests, and determining all possible heirs under the wrongful death statute
  • Equitably allocating the insufficient policy limits tendered by Esurance between three claimants

What We Did to Win the Settlement

Our auto accident lawyers opened the bodily injury and wrongful death claims with Esurance, while investigating to confirm that no other insurance was available. We then obtained Esurance's compliance in tendering the policy limits.

We worked to secure the appointments of proper persons to act as the Next Friend of Mr. Adams, as well as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Jayden Johnson. We also had to determine the proper interested parties and wrongful death heirs in a fairly complex family tree.

Finally, we acquired the Probate Court's approval of the settlement for all claimants and heirs.

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