A Bibb County judge has awarded more than $6.65 million to the estate and family of a 21-year-old woman who was killed in a collision with a drunken pizza delivery driver two years ago.
State Court Judge William P. Adams issued the order and verdict Wednesday afternoon in the May 17, 2008, death of Brittney Higdon. A nonjury trial was held Sept. 2.
Higdon, of Trails End Drive, died about an hour after the crash near the intersection of Hartley Bridge and School roads.
Ian Andrew Nichols, 25, of Goodall Mill Road, is serving an eight-year prison sentence in her death. He pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in 2009.
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Nichols was working as a Domino’s Pizza deliveryman at the time of the crash. His blood-alcohol content measured 0.122, and he tested positive for marijuana.
In his decision, Adams awarded $15,289.50 to Higdon’s estate for medical expenses, $6,159.63 for funeral expenses, $4,350 for property damage and towing and $100,000 for pain and suffering, according to Bibb County State Court records.
“While the amount of time Brittney suffered ... was quite short, it was marked by the awareness of an imminent violent collision and the horrific aftermath,” Adams wrote.
In response to the wrongful death claim by Higdon’s parents, the judge awarded $2,655,509 for economic damages and $4 million for noneconomic damages.
Francis Rushing, an economist and consultant, testified at the trial that the economic loss alone caused by Higdon’s death amounted to about $2.6 million.
Chris Clark, one of the attorneys representing the Higdon family, said Brittney’s parents were pleased the order. He said it reflects “what an outstanding woman Brittney was.
“Her loss was a loss for the entire community,” Clark said.
A call to Nichols’ lawyer was not returned late Wednesday afternoon.
Geico filed a request for declaratory judgment in Bibb County Superior Court on Sept. 1, asking a judge to determine whether the car that Nichols was driving was covered by liability coverage and whether Geico should be obligated to pay any judgment rendered against Nichols in State Court.
Under the liability coverage section of the policy covering the vehicle, liability coverage doesn’t apply “to any vehicle used to carry persons or property for compensation or a fee,” according to the court filing.
The insurance company contends that Nichols was not covered by liability insurance at the time of the crash and that it should not have to pay any claim that resulted from the crash.
Geico’s case still is pending.
Information from Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.