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Child kicked in the head by a horse suffers brain injury – $700,000 Settlement

Plaintiff, a few weeks shy of his 7th birthday, was visiting a family farm and invited to follow the owner into a field to see the horse. The owner was leading a horse up a hill and the plaintiff fell behind. The horse became spooked and kicked child in side of his head, causing a depressed skull fracture, contusion on the surface of the frontal bone and a subarachnoid hemorrhage. There was brain matter exposed at the scene. Plaintiff underwent a decompressive craniotomy and removal of the in-driven bone, debridement of the brain, partial closure of the dura and replacement of the bone fragments with miniplates.

At the time of the incident, the plaintiff was just starting second grade, so there was very little academic track record. At time of settlement, the child was in 10th grade in high school and had a history of poor academic performance, learning disabilities and ADD.  Neuropsychological testing over the interim years was consistent with regard to attention deficits with some question as to whether the ADD was preexisting due to records of teacher observations from first grade.  Later testing revealed trouble with attention, sustained concentration, changing attention, short term memory and mental persistence, anxiety, anger control, as well as deficits in visual-spatial functions.

Defendants had a $300,000 homeowner policy and a $1,000,000 dollar umbrella policy.

Plaintiff experts included an equine expert, neurologist, neuroradiologist, neuropsychologist and life care planner. Defense did not seek a Rule 4:10 medical exam, and the case settled at mediation before defense experts were designated.


Type of action: Personal injury – kick in head by horse
Injuries alleged: Traumatic brain injury
Special damages: Past medical bills – $122,286; life care plan called for special education services including intensive tutoring and life coach/management services ranging from $670,000 to $692,000 depending on whether he continued with public school or private school
First demand: Limit of two policies of $1,300,000
Resolved before: Mediation
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Amount: $700,000
Attorneys for plaintiff: Charles J. Zauzig III and Claire E. Keena, Woodbridge

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