On the morning of September 22, 2012, John Rowley left home to travel the short distance to the family-owned nursery that he operated. Sunny skies and warm early morning temperatures persuaded John to drive his Harley Davidson motorcycle to work. Moments later, John was instantly killed when he laid his motorcycle down and slid into a flatbed trailer parked across Hwy. 166 in rural Carroll County. He left a wife and five children.
To make matters worse, the Georgia State Patrol did a fatality investigation and placed all blame for this tragedy on John. Despite John being an experienced rider, the report found that John was following a cargo truck too closely; as the truck swerved to avoid a cattle company’s flatbed trailer parked across the highway while the operator was opening a pasture gate, John was suddenly confronted with this hazard. His only choice was to lay the bike down. The cargo truck driver never stopped so the police concluded that John should have put more distance between he and the cargo truck. The young driver of the parked rig was not even cited. It appeared that the cattle company and its insurance company would escape any responsibility for this horrible tragedy.
Rhonda Rowley came to our firm not only for the wrongful death of her husband but to clear his name of causing his own death. She was terribly upset that the investigator placed no responsibility on the cattle company that had a parked rig, including a 28 foot trailer, out into the highway. The State investigation team felt that the employee had no alternative because of the grade of the road shoulder. The report indicated that there was a likelihood that had he attempted to pull the rig off onto the shoulder that the trailer hauling a bobcat may have flipped.
Sherrod & Bernard immediately launched an investigation. Fortunately, we found an eyewitness who had stopped at the scene and was adamant that John did nothing wrong. He was not following too closely and was simply confronted with the parked trailer on a highway with nowhere to go. He distinctively laid the motorcycle down and attempted to slide. Our investigator videoed the scene and reviewed the physical evidence. We were also able to examine and photograph the trailer and John’s motorcycle. Slowly, we began seeing a different picture-one that placed responsibility on the cattle company and its driver. Despite our efforts, the insurance company for the cattle company continued to hide behind the police report.
In order to expose the truth, we took our findings and located an expert in the field of accident reconstruction. In fact, our expert trains law enforcement officers in vehicular crashes involving fatalities. Sherrod & Bernard rented the exact type truck, trailer and bobcat that the cattle company was operating. We hired off duty officers to close the stretch of Hwy. 166 where John died. Our team then watched in amazement as our hired driver parked the replica rig completely off the road in a safe manner within seconds. There was never any danger of the rig overturning. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a 1000 words, the photograph below completely shot down the defense of the case.
As soon as we provided our findings to the insurance companies involved for the defendants, the case was over. The insurance company paid all coverage available which amounted to over 1.5 million dollars. An insufficient amount for John’s life but it is our hope that Rhonda and her children found some peace of mind knowing that John did nothing wrong.
Police said that this was the only feasible way to park the rig which caused the crash.
Sherrod & Bernard team exposed the truth.