$9,500,000 Recovered for Young Man Who Suffered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Commercial Vehicle Crash – – Pedestrian hit by Garbage Truck
Type of Action: Motor Vehicle Negligence, Commercial Vehicle, Pedestrian
Injuries Alleged: Traumatic brain injury, a traumatic partial amputation of his right foot which was subsequently re-attached at Duke, right tibia and fibula fractures, right knee dislocation and fragmentation, left tibial plateau fracture, left knee fracture and joint disruption, left femoral fracture, fractured left sinus, fractured left orbit, right orbital fracture, fractured right sinus, liver laceration, kidney laceration, and other less severe physical injuries. Plaintiff was in a coma at Duke University Medical Center for approximately one month followed by in-patient rehabilitation for an additional seven months.
Name of Case and File Number: *Names Withheld to Protect Clients’ Interests*
County Where Case Filed: Durham County
Concluded on Date: September 13, 2000
Name of Mediator: Jim Billings, Raleigh, NC served as Mediator
Special Damages: $780,000 total medical bills, projected lost income $900,000.
Verdict or Settlement: Settlement
Highest Offer: Initially, the defense denied the claim due to contributory negligence. (In North Carolina, a finding of contributory negligence will bar a plaintiff’s right to any recovery.) After discovery and depositions, during which the defendant truck driver plead the 5th Amendment, the lawyers for the injured pedestrian obtained an order striking the contributory negligence defense.
Most Helpful Experts (Name, Title, City): Ann Neulicht, Ph.D., Life Care Planner, Raleigh, NC; J. Finley Lee, Ph.D., Economist, Chapel Hill, NC; Plaintiff’s treating medical care providers at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; and, Medical Illustrations by Mark Valentine of The Visual Advantage in Knightdale.
Plaintiff’s Lawyers: William J. Thomas, II and Jay H. Ferguson were among the lawyers representing the injured pedestrian. Thomas, Ferguson & Mullins, LLP, (Durham), 919-682-5648, fax 919-688-7251
Description of Case, the Evidence Presented, the Arguments Made, and/or Others Useful Information: The victim of the negligent garbage truck driver was a 16 year old boy who was walking alongside the road coming home from school. He was struck by a Waste Industries garbage truck on the afternoon of February 9, 1998. At the time he was struck, the boy was not on the roadway. When the garbage company and its driver denied all liability for his severe injuries, Thomas, Ferguson & Mullins, LLP. filed a lawsuit to recover the boy’s damages against the negligent driver and, Waste Industries, the owner of the truck and the driver’s employer. The defendants again denied liability and asserted contributory negligence, contending that the boy was negligently walking with his back to traffic. Although there were conflicting eyewitness reports regarding the direction in which the boy was walking, the plaintiffs contended that he was facing traffic and that, even if he had his back to traffic, he was not negligent because it was impractical and unsafe to walk on the other side of the road as that side of the road had no shoulder and would have required the pedestrian to walk in the roadway. Once the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiff’s lawyers deposed the defendant truck driver. The truck driver pled the Fifth Amendment to avoid any criminal liability and refused to testify about how the accident happened. The plaintiffs contended that the defendant driver could not refuse to testify and still continue maintaining the defense of contributory negligence. The plaintiff’s lawyers filed a motion to strike the contributory negligence defense and a superior court judge agreed and struck the defense. The defendants appealed that ruling. The case settled at mediation while the appeal was still pending.
Amount Actually Recovered for Client: The actual present day value of the settlement was $9,500,000 (Nine Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars); however, the settlement included annuities with projected future payouts totalng $53,577,157.00 (Fifty Three Million, Five Hundred Seventy Seven Thousand, One Hundred Fifty Seven dollars.)