The attorneys at the Goings Law Firm, LLC has been featured in the list of “Legal Elite” in South Carolina since 2015. Integrated Media Publishing, the publisher of Charleston Business, Columbia Business Monthly, and Greenville Business Magazine, has announced the 2021 winners of its annual Legal Elite awards in its August edition. All four attorneys at the Goings Law Firm, LLC were selected to the list of 2021 “Legal Elite” in South Carolina. 2021 Legal Elite publication honors attorneys based on peer review voting from other attorneys in the Lowcountry, Midlands, and Upstate areas of South Carolina based on attorney reputation, legal skill and experience, and quality of legal services. The “Legal Elite” list recognizes lawyers whom peers consider among the best and outstanding in their respective practice areas. We are proud to be recognized as “Legal Elite” in the fields of personal injury litigation, business litigation, and workers’ compensation law.
Our firm holds drunk drivers accountable!! On September 10, 2021, Robert F. Goings and Jessica L. Gooding of the Goings Law Firm, LLC won a jury verdict in the amount of $12,500,000.00 for a client involved a car collision in Columbia involving a drunk driver. The verdict comprised of $3,500,000.00 in actual damages and $9,000,000.00 in punitive damages, reflecting the egregious conduct of a drunk and intoxicated driver endangering the public. This verdict is considered the largest jury verdict in Richland County history in a non-fatality automobile collision. The client sustained $380,000 in medical bills for treatment to his right shoulder, neck, and low back caused in a rear end collision on I-77 in a work zone, including being out of work for approximately two years following the collision. Our firm has a reputation for getting results in the courtroom, and this verdict is another testament of our ability to hold drunk drivers accountable for their reckless and illegal conduct. If you or your loved ones have been injury or killed in a collision caused by a drunk driver, please call or text our law firm today at 803-350-9230 for a free, no obligation consultation.
This case was featured on the front page of The State Newspaper in South Carolina. Here is the article:
Richland County jury awards $12.5M to man in DUI crash
By: John Monk
COLUMBIA, SC: A Richland County jury awarded $12.5 million in damages to a highway worker who was severely injured on Interstate 77 in 2018 by a car driven by a man characterized during his trial as a “habitual drunken driver.”
The jury was out less than three hours and returned a verdict late Friday, said Columbia attorney Robert Goings, who represented the injured worker, Keith Bookman before State Judge Grace Knie.The $12.5 million verdict includes $3.5 million in actual damages and $9 million in punitive damages, according to court records.
In 2018, Columbia-area attorney Jason Buffkin crashed his Honda into the rear of Bookman’s truck, which was in the northbound lane of I-77 near the Garners Ferry Road exit. At the time of the crash, Bookman, 51, was part of a road crew and the truck he was driving was traveling north on the interstate at the end of a small caravan of trucks sweeping the interstate of debris from roadside construction.
The flashing message on the back of Bookman’s truck said, “Right Lane Closed,” with an arrow pointing to the left lane, Goings said.
Evidence at the four-day trial last week showed that Bookman’s medical expenses related to the crash were approximately $380,000 for surgeries to his shoulder, neck and lower back, said Goings, who tried the case with partner Jessica Gooding.
The evidence before the jury also showed that Buffkin had a blood alcohol content of .148 some four hours after the crash, Goings said.
In his final argument to jurors, Goings said he told them, “You need to return a verdict that is big enough to make it in the newspaper, to send a message to any drunk driver that is out there that drunk driving is not tolerated in Richland County — that our lives, our families’ lives are worth more than to be endangered by a reckless, careless drunk driver.”
Buffkin could not be reached for comment.
Buffkin’s attorney, Deidre Smallwood of Columbia, told The State Monday, “I am no longer involved with that” and had no further comment.
A lawsuit in the case said that between 2001-2018, Buffkin was charged with three DUIs, twice in South Carolina and once in Virginia.
In his answer to the allegations about previous DUI arrests, Buffkin’s lawsuit argued that those DUI charges “lack relevance,” were inadmissible in the trial and “not appropriate facts to be included in” this trial.
“The jury did get to hear that evidence, which showed the duration of his conduct,” Goings said Tuesday.
Steven Burritt, executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, in South Carolina, said in his experience that size of a verdict is “unprecedented.”
“I can’t recall hearing anything that large in a DUI case,” Burritt said.
“That jury took the opportunity to express just how serious this crime is, and how frustrating it is to see this kind of behavior, which puts all of us at risk.” Burritt said. “The jurors said, ‘Here’s something we can do — we can send a message.’”
Collecting a sizable judgment is always uncertain and it remains uncertain how much of the $12.5 million verdict will be received.
But, Goings said, “We plan to exhaust all avenues to collect on the verdict.”
Columbia-based Goings Law Firm, LLC, through the work of attorneys Robert Goings and Jessica Gooding, recently obtained a large verdict against a drunk driver. Our client, a South Carolina highway worker, was seriously injured in an accident caused by a habitual drunk driver in 2018. After deliberating for just three hours, the jury returned with a verdict, awarding our client a staggering $12.5 million in damages.
The $12.5 million in damages consists of $3.5 million in actual damages and $9 million in punitive damages, which are designed to punish a defendant for excessively reckless behavior.
Back in 2018, our client was traveling northbound on Interstate 77 as part of a caravan of construction vehicles, clearing construction debris from the highway, when a Columbia-based attorney rear-ended our client’s truck. At the time of the accident, our client’s truck actually had flashing, lighted signage on the rear of his vehicle, instructing other drivers to keep left.
Our client sustained injuries to his neck, shoulders, and lower back due to the collision, ultimately costing around $380,000 in medical expenses.
We presented evidence that demonstrated the culprit’s liability. He had a staggering BAC (blood alcohol content) of .148 around four hours after the crash. The legal limit is a BAC of .08. This same man had been charged with driving under the influence a total of three times in the past, incurring two DUI’s in South Carolina and another in Virginia. While the defendant’s attorney argued that his past convictions were irrelevant to the case at hand, Goings Law Firm, LLC established that the driver had a dangerous pattern of driving while intoxicated that ultimately led him to severely injure our client.
As part of his closing argument before the jury, Robert Goings stated, “You need to return a verdict that is big enough to make it in the newspaper, to send a message to any drunk driver that is out there that drunk driving is not tolerated in Richland County — that our lives, our families’ lives are worth more than to be endangered by a reckless, careless drunk driver.”
The size of the verdict that Goings Law Firm, LLC was able to obtain for our client was called “unprecedented” by Steven Burrit, the executive director for the South Carolina branch of MADD (Mothers Against Drinking in Driving). Of the verdict, Burrit added, “I can’t recall hearing anything that large in a DUI case. That jury took the opportunity to express just how serious this crime is, and how frustrating it is to see this kind of behavior, which puts all of us at risk.”
Robert Goings indicated that the firm would do everything in its power to ensure that their client was able to collect on the verdict.
Contact Goings Law Firm, LLC Today
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver in South Carolina, contact Goings Law Firm, LLC today. We have the experience and skills to independently investigate your claim, gather evidence to support it, and aggressively seek the compensation you deserve. With our proven track record of success, you know your case is in good hands when you hire us. Contact us today at (803) 350-9230 for a free case evaluation.
Any type of auto accident is devastating. However, accidents with large commercial trucks can be permanently life-altering and challenging to recover from. Eighteen-wheelers are heavy and usually weigh about 80,000 pounds when they’re fully loaded. That’s 20 times heavier than a standard car. When accidents happen with an 18-wheeler, the consequences can be lethal.
To avoid accidents and to ensure road safety, truck drivers not only have to pass rigorous driving tests to receive their license, but they also have to maintain detailed accounts of their driving and resting time. Every driver of a commercial vehicle has a travel log. If an accident happens with an 18-wheeler, one of the first things that will be examined is the driver’s log.
The Law for Truck Drivers
Have you ever heard that pilots have to take rest days after flying for a few days? The same principle applies to truck drivers. The rules and regulations set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are designed to ensure drivers are well-rested and alert while on the road. These rules include
- 11-Hour Driving Limit — Drivers are allowed to operate for a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off duty.
- 14-Hour Limit — After ten consecutive hours off duty, drivers are not allowed to drive past the 14th consecutive hour.
- 30-Minute Breaks — After eight consecutive hours of driving, truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break.
- 60/70-Hour Limit — When on duty for seven/eight days, drivers may not operate more than 60/70 of those hours.
As you can see, these rules encourage rest, alertness, and safe driving habits on the part of truck drivers. If found to be in violation of these rules, drivers will be fined. If you are in an accident with a truck driver who is in violation of the hours of service rules, they may be liable for the accident.
Why Is Drive Time Regulated?
When you learn to drive, you hear it all the time: “don’t drive when you’re tired.” Obviously, if you fall asleep at the wheel, you are likely to veer out of your lane and cause an accident. But, even if you drive tired but don’t fall asleep, you still pose a significant risk to other vehicles. When drivers are drowsy, their reaction times are slow, their judgment is impeded, and they are unable to make snap decisions that can often save lives.
The FMCSA strictly regulates the operational hours of truck drivers to ensure that they are well-rested and able to make rapid decisions when on the road. Rested drivers are less likely to cause accidents.
How Do Truck Drivers Log Their Time?
In the past, drivers would log their hours of service (HOS) on paper. These paper logs would include the location, date, and time of all points on a route. They were filled out by the driver and mailed in for verification. These days, all truck drivers have ELDs, or Electronic Logging Devices. These devices enable trucking companies, the Department of Transportation, and drivers themselves to keep a close eye on driving metrics.
ELDs connect to the engine of the truck, and track speed, stops, starts, and location. Most drivers have an app on their phone that enables them to monitor their drive time and log appropriate breaks and rest hours. ELDs can even detect that an accident has happened and alert the trucking company.
If an accident happens with a truck, the ELD is key to understanding how it all happened. ELDs will tell how fast the truck was going at impact, how long the driver had been operating before the incident, and importantly, whether the driver was in violation of the FMCSA’s rules and regulations.
What to Do if You’ve Been in a Truck Accident
For truck drivers, the slightest mistake or moment of distraction can mean disaster — for themselves and for those they share the road with. The travel logs of truck drivers are an absolutely critical resource if you’ve been in an accident with an 18-wheeler. An attorney will be able to assist you in contacting a trucking company for a driver’s HOS log, establishing liability for the accident, and getting you the compensation you need.
If you or someone you love has recently been in an accident with an 18-wheeler, call Goings Law Firm, LLC at (803) 350-9230 today. Our personal injury attorneys have years of experience helping people in the Columbia area receive compensation. Don’t let an accident set you back any longer — call us today.