After years of negotiations with a trucking company and its driver for the wrongful death of a woman in Connecticut, a settlement was finally reached in August 2019. But this agreement didn’t happen until the case went to court and was handed off to a jury. There were no drugs or narcotics involved, just a negligent truck driver who was in a hurry to get to his next destination - and a trucking company with a legal team that played hardball up to the very last possible moment.
Cristina Vomoca’s Fatal Last Day
The victim, in this case, was Cristina Vomoca, a Brazilian immigrant who arrived in the United States in her teens. At the time of her death, she was the mother of an 18-month-old boy and a hairdresser at a popular Greenwich, Connecticut salon.
Cristina and her close friend, Maiko Kobayashi, were headed home from work at the salon one Saturday when Cristina’s vehicle collided with a truck belonging to Food Haulers, Inc. The driver, Jeffrey Bodnar, was tired of the traffic on I-95 and intended to exit and re-enter the highway further down.
He was not on drugs or drinking at the time, but simply impatient with the traffic. And in his hurry to get off of the highway, he ran a red light at the bottom of the exit ramp hitting Cristina and Maiko.
Jeffrey was not hurt, but both Cristina and Maiko suffered extensive injuries. Cristina died 8 days later leaving her young son without a mother. She was only 38 years old at the time and by all accounts, a well-loved person and a hard-worker who had a great passion for life.
The Family That Wouldn’t Give Up
Despite the devasting impact of this trucking accident, Food Haulers Inc. and its parent company, Wakefern Food Corp., refused to settle for an acceptable amount for several years. A GoFundMe account helped Cristina’s family with the expenses of the funeral.
The little boy’s father, Paul Wilson, was left to raise their son on his own. He filed a suit on behalf of little Oliver, for $47 million for compensatory damages including every year of Cristina’s life that was taken away.
Wakefern’s highest offer was for $9 million. Fortunately, Paul and his legal team held out. The case made it all the way to trial and after two weeks of hearing the compelling evidence against them, Bodnar, Food Haulers, and Wakefern reached out to the family - just 24 hours after the case went to the jury. And they finally reached a settlement agreement for $18.75 million, more than two times their original offer – making this one of the largest settlements in history for the state of Connecticut.
The money will go into a trust for young Oliver, who will receive it when he turns 18.
The Right Lawyer Makes a Difference
Fortunately for little Oliver, his dad and the legal team knew that the case deserved a higher settlement and they were willing to fight for it. In so many cases, families accept less than the full and fair compensation. They may settle directly with the other side’s insurance company, which generally offers the lowest amount they can get away with, or try to fight, then cave when the other side stands firm.
Finding the right lawyer makes all the difference in cases like these. If Paul and his lawyer had agreed to the initial settlement offer, little Oliver would have gotten less than half of the money he’ll now receive when he becomes an adult.
Even when these trucking companies know that they are at fault, their insurance companies will push and play hardball to get out of paying the victims what they are worth. They are banking on the fact that the families are distraught and desperate – and just want to move on with their lives.
Seek Counsel Before You Settle
Although it may be tempting to settle and move on, don’t do this without the advice of a lawyer who has worked on these types of cases. Like the case of Cristina Vomoca, your accident may be worth so much more than what the insurance company is telling you.
Jason DeSouza is an injury attorney who has fought and won tough battles like these for his clients. And he never charges a fee unless you win. To schedule a consultation, contact him today at 833-JASON-WINS.