A Birmingham police officer who was hurt while working an accident on Interstate 65 North was awarded $833,709 by a Jefferson County jury today. The injured police officer was represented by MRB attorneys Rip Andrews and Ben Ford.
Sergeant Demus Smith was standing on the roadway at the scene of a wreck when a drunk driver hit his parked patrol car, which then struck Sergeant Smith. He was said to have been traveling at about 65 mph when he crashed into the line of four patrol cars, all of which had emergency lights activated.
The lawsuit was against the driver, the owner of the car, and Sergeant Smith's uninsured motorist insurance carrier, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. The driver and the owner of the car were never found again, so the trial proceeded against State Farm.
Sergeant Smith suffered a crush injury to his right foot and ankle. He was out of work for six months but is now back at work.
The jury awarded $33,709.21 in compensatory damages and $800,000 in punitive damages.
According to Rip, the jury sent a strong message that people need to think twice before they drink and drive. If they do so and they hurt someone, there will be serious financial consequences.