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Chestatee track coach struck by car reaches $1 million settlement
Stacey Merck

Chestatee High School track coach Stacey Merck, who was struck by a vehicle while running with students last year, received a $1 million settlement, her attorneys said Friday.

“It was a highlight of my career to give the news to her,” attorney Jon Pope said.

Merck was running with four others Sept. 25 in the grass adjacent to Chestatee Road north of Sardis Road, according to her lawsuit in Hall County State Court.

A man in a 2011 Dodge Ram truck was traveling southbound on Chestatee Road, and the passenger side-view mirror struck Merck in the face, her attorneys said.

“One of the cross country/track team members in front of Stacey had her hair up in a bun, and the mirror actually hit the bun and knocked her hair and then obviously then hit Stacey,” Pope said.

The settlement amount is 10 times the policy limit on the driver’s insurance.

Pope and attorney Ronny Hulsey filed a time-limited demand to the driver’s insurance company.

“They made a counteroffer and didn’t accept our demand that was sent pursuant to Georgia law, and we then asserted that they were in bad faith and as a result were liable above and beyond their actual policy limit,” Pope said.

Pope and Hulsey then filed the lawsuit, which resulted in a quick resolution through settlement.

The verdict, Pope said, “would have been significant given Stacey’s serious, permanent injuries.”

“She still has permanent vision loss,” Hulsey said. “She has facial scarring, because the accident fractured the orbital socket, so she had to have some extensive surgery to that.”

The medical expenses are now more than $200,000, the attorneys said. Merck has been able to return to work.