A 19-year-old Virginia woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a traffic crash has settled her case for $11 million with the owner of a van that crossed the center line on a wet two-lane highway. The woman was a backseat passenger in a Ford-150 pickup truck when it was hit by a Ford Econoline E350 service vehicle in Pennsylvania in June 2008. She was hospitalized for about six weeks and was in a rehabilitation center for another six weeks of treatment. She incurred $562,043 in medical bills. An expert estimated that it would take $4 million to care for her for the rest of her life.
The case was settled on the condition that the Defendants and their insurers would not be identified. In addition to the brain injury, the woman suffered a broken and dislocated hip that has left her with a very bad limp. But the extent of the brain injury was the focus of settlement negotiations. Before the injury, the woman participated in softball and gymnastics and took advanced placement classes in high school. The woman now has the functional abilities of a 12-year-old. Her experts were prepared to testify that she is unlikely to recover any more intellectual capacity. But defense experts contended that further improvement is likely, although they acknowledged the severity of the initial injury.
The Plaintiff filed the lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Loudoun County, Va., her county of residence. The driver of the truck in which she was a passenger is also a resident of Loudoun County and is the father of a high school classmate of the Plaintiff. She had accompanied the classmate and the father on the trip to Pennsylvania. The driver of the truck and the corporate owner of the van were named as Defendants in the lawsuit. The corporation did not object to Loudoun as the venue for the dispute, at least in part because of the county’s reputation as a conservative jurisdiction.
Prior to the settlement, Dr. Jeffrey Frederick at the National Legal Research Group conducted a focus group session of about 25 county residents. After the trial team presented an abbreviated version of the case, the group broke into three “juries” and their deliberations were recorded. Although some group members indicated they would have awarded less than the ultimate settlement amount, others suggested that they would have gone higher. The team also developed a multi-media presentation for a mediation of the case. In addition to relying on the counsel provided by its insurance carrier, the Defendant who was the corporate owner of the van hired a lawyer to follow the case and attend the proceedings. He was provided with excerpts from the deliberations of the “juries.” The Defendant corporation had a $1 million basic policy and $15 million in excess coverage.
Retired Judge Paul Sheridan conducted two mediation sessions, but neither resulted in a settlement. He continued to work with the parties and the case finally settled about 10 days before a scheduled two-week trial. The settlement was a present value of $11 million and will be structured to provide the woman with a lifetime of payments. Richmond lawyer John C. Shea represented the Plaintiff, along with Roger T. Creager of Richmond and Jonathan B. Kazem of Leesburg, Va. They did a very good job for their client.
Source: Lawyers USA Online
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.