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Driver Struck While Moving Company Van Off Highway Recovers $1 Million

Type of action: Motor vehicle accident
Injuries alleged: Loss of both legs
Name of case: Confidential
Court/county: Confidential
Case no.: Confidential
Name of judge: n/a
Special damages: n/a
Verdict/settlement: Settlement
Amount: $1 million ($30,000 from liability carrier and $970,000 from underinsured carrier)
Date obtained: March 10, 2005
Demand: n/a
Offer: n/a
Experts: Plaintiff’s damage experts included a life care planner and an economist
Insurer: n/a
Plaintiff’s attorneys: Robert E. Whitley of Whitley Law Firm, Raleigh
Person submitting: Sandi Rose

Description: Plaintiff, a 43-year-old, was operating her company’s van on a four-lane highway during a severe rainstorm. Plaintiff lost control of the van after hydroplaning and slid into the protective railing on the shoulder on her side of the road at an approximate 45 degree angle. The rear of her van came to rest with about two to three feet in the traveled lane on the highway. Plaintiff was attempting to get her jack out of the rear of the van in order to get her vehicle off of the railing and was standing in the highway when she was struck by the defendant driver causing her to sustain traumatic amputation of both of her legs above the knee.

The liability carrier almost immediately tendered its minimum coverage limits. The underinsurance carrier, which was also the same carrier as plaintiff’s workers’ compensation carrier, originally took the position that the plaintiff was negligent by being out on the highway, and that the plaintiff had negligently placed herself in that position by having lost control of her vehicle.

Shortly before the mediated settlement conference of the workers’ compensation claim, the underinsured carrier, which had been invited to that mediation, tendered the balance of its limits of $970,000. There was some issue prior to that tender as to whether or not there would be any offset for the workers’ compensation benefits paid to plaintiff. The carrier eventually acknowledged that the value of plaintiff’s claim exceeded the total workers’ compensation lien by more than $1,000,000.

At the mediated settlement conference for the workers’ compensation claim a settlement was reached for the indemnity portion of the claim only. The settlement agreement with the workers’ compensation carrier and the parties includes confidentiality provisions which only allow limited disclosures.