Seminole jury awards $3.8M to woman in texting-and-driving crash

2016 Winter Park crash caused by distracted driver, according to lawyers

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A woman permanently injured in a Winter Park crash was awarded $3.8 million by a Seminole County jury last week in a suit against her insurer Geico, according to a spokesperson for Morgan and Morgan.

According to attorneys with the Orlando-based law firm, Linda Amerault was driving in Winter Park in January 2016 when she was T-boned by another driver at Howell Branch and Dodd roads. Her lawyers said the driver was texting and driving at the time of the crash.

Amerault was hospitalized and treated for neck and back injuries, her lawyers said. She continues to undergo physical therapy and was recently told she will need neck surgery, according to Morgan and Morgan.

Amerault was insured by Geico. Her attorneys sued for damages and last week a Seminole County jury awarded her a $3.8 million verdict for the injuries she suffered.

"Ms. Amerault was a healthy woman entering her golden years and looking forward to spending time with her children and grandchildren, but instead of enjoying that time and her retirement, she will be in pain for the rest of her life. That is what the other driver took from her,” Amerault’s attorney, Ryan Rudd, said. “Through no fault of her own, Ms. Amerault’s golden years were stolen from her. We’re pleased with the jury’s decision to fairly compensate her, but nothing can bring back the joy of being healthy, happy, and pain-free.”

There are several legislative efforts in Florida currently that are intended to help deter texting and driving and prevent distracted driving crashes.

Florida state Rep. Jackie Toledo filled a bill that would ban Florida drivers from holding their phones while behind the wheel. 

Republican state Sen. Wilton Simpson, of Trilby, and Democratic state Rep. Emily Slosberg, of Boca Raton, have each filed bills that would not only make texting and driving a primary offense, but would also restrict reading or talking on a wireless device while behind the wheel.

Read more about the efforts to end distracted driving crashes at ClickOrlando.com/drivingchange.

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