A Plaintiff Struck By a Commercial Bus Settled Her Claim for $3.5 Million
Case name and number: Confidential
Principal injuries (in order of severity): Traumatic brain injury and hip fracture
Special damages: $191,101 (Medical Expenses)
Tried or settled: Settled
Date concluded: September 16, 2008
Name of judge: None (mediation)
Insurance carrier: Not applicable
Expert witnesses and areas of expertise: Linda Sproat, HealthCare Strategies, Inc.; Dixon Pearsall, Pearsall Vocational Services; Dr. Edwin Cooper, M.D., P.A.; Dr. C. Thomas Gualtieri, N.C. Neuropsychiatry; Dr. Finley Lee; Dr. Edwin Cooper, M.D., P.A., Kinston Orthopedic and Sports Medicine; Dr. Patrick O’Brien, Carolina Rehabilitation & Surgical Associates; Learning Services
Attorneys for plaintiff: Robert E. Whitley of Whitley Law Firm (Kinston)
Submitted by: W. Thompson Comerford, Jr., plaintiff’s attorney
Description: A plaintiff struck by a commercial bus settled her claim against the defendant for $3.5 million after a post-mediation conference in the defendant’s attorney’s office. Kinston attorney Robert E. Whitley represented the plaintiff, a 22-year-old single female who was a passenger in an auto that was struck almost head-on by the commercial bus on Oct. 18, 2006. The plaintiff was transported to the hospital at Chapel Hill. Her most significant injuries were a traumatic brain injury and left-hip fracture.
She was discharged from a rehabilitation center to her home on Nov. 8, 2006, with attendant-care instructions. Because of the rural area in which the plaintiff lived with her family and the lack of nearby resources, the plaintiff was eventually able to obtain a loan on her case so as to allow her admission to Learning Services of Raleigh. At Learning Services, she underwent therapy, rehabilitation, general observation, counseling and treatment for her brain injury. The loan allowed the plaintiff to stay at Learning Services for approximately two months. Her stay contributed, in part, to a significant recovery from her brain injury. At mediation, there was no significant offer made by the defense, and the case was on a trial calendar for Oct. 13, 2008.
As trial depositions were being taken in the weeks and months leading up to the trial date, the defense requested a settlement conference, one-on-one, with the plaintiff’s attorney and the head of the carrier’s claims department. Basically, “old-fashioned” settlement negotiations took place. The plaintiff elected to settle the claim for $3.5 million in part because of the enormous amount of cost that would be incurred in the months leading up to the trial by way of trial and discovery depositions. The plaintiff structured a large portion of the settlement proceeds in an annuity at a cost of $1.5 million, which will pay over her expected life a total of approximately $9 million.