WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. – So often in our newscasts, you’ve seen how life can change in an instant because of a mistake on the road.
In one recent case, a man from Dexter found out the hard way that insurance companies’ first instinct isn’t always to make sure you get back to normal life as soon as possible.
Instead of help, Vincent Doa got investigated and it was a multi-million dollar mistake.
Doa was driving east on I-96 a little west of Wixom Road in heavy traffic. Suddenly the car in front of him swerved to reveal a large tire bouncing right toward him.
That’s when it starts to get difficult for Doa to talk about it.
“Excuse me,” he says, choking back tears. “I suffer from PTSD and it’s difficult to relive it.”
The PTSD is because Doa’s truck was hit head-on by a commercial truck tire. He instantaneously decided not to swerve because of the cars around him.
“The next thing I know there was an explosion,” says Doa. “When I woke up, I looked to my right and there was a guy standing there looking at me like I was dead.”
Doa had bleeding on his brain and now permanent nerve damage in his neck and arm that still requires two surgeries. He needed three eye surgeries, has headaches and enough damage to his spine that doctors told him another car crash could leave him paralyzed.
“I would not wish this on my worst enemy because it’s been torture for four years,” he says as his voice cracks with emotion.
That was the physical part. Doa has also endured a legal headache.
Doa’s attorney Ven Johnson says the insurance company for Lower Huron Chemical and Supply put up an unnecessary fight and hired private investigators to follow Doa.
“It was unbelievable. They know they’re responsible,” Johnson explained. “To try to make it out where Vince was the bad guy and Vince -- they literally called him in open court throughout this trial -- a liar, a faker.”
The insurance company in question had no comment for this story when contacted by Local 4.
Attorney Steve Wieber has defended many trucking companies and seen how insurance companies operate. He says they’re not concerned about looking bad to a jury, it’s about doing their due diligence to make sure a victim is on the up and up.
“We all pay insurance,” explains Wieber. “As a general rule, we don’t want insurance fraud because that raises the cost for everybody.”
In Doa’s case, the jury needed less than two hours to decide in his favor.
“What I think it shows, is they were looking for a narrative,” says Johnson. “They stuck with that narrative despite the fact that the evidence absolutely proved their narrative was wrong. And it literally blew up in their face for over $8 million dollars.”
An $8 million dollar judgment that Johnson says could have been settled for a few million less, but the insurance company instead offered $300,000 to settle early on in the trial.
The money matters little to Doa.
“You can even have all the money,” he says. “It’s pulling you back to where I was physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally before the accident. That’s all I asked.”