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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Injured truck driver resolves PI and workers’ comp claims – $831,000 Settlement and $369,619 Settlement

Injured truck driver resolves PI and workers’ comp claims – $831,000 Settlement and $369,619 Settlement

The plaintiff, a resident of Pittsylvania County, owned and operated a cattle farm and a bed and breakfast after retiring from Pepsi Cola. To earn some extra money, he took a job transporting mail for a private contractor to the U.S. Postal Service. While operating a large box truck on Route 29 in Pittsylvania County on Oct. 24, 2009, a vehicle traveling toward him in the opposite lane crossed over the center line and struck him head-on at a high rate of speed, even after he had pulled his truck completely onto the grass shoulder.  The plaintiff suffered severe left foot and heel fractures and then developed severe fracture blisters. He underwent multiple surgeries including ORIF, hammertoe release and subtalar fusion. Following the onset of complex regional pain syndrome, the plaintiff was referred for pain management. His severe CRPS symptoms included pervasive skin discoloration, severe sensitivity to touch (allodynia), temperature changes, abnormal hair and nail growth and shiny skin. After sympathetic nerve blocks, high dosage opioid therapy and a spinal cord stimulator all failed to provide relief for his pain, his orthopedic surgeon recommended amputation of the plaintiff’s left leg. Those plans were subsequently abandoned due to the spread of the CRPS symptoms, and the plaintiff instead underwent surgery to implant an intrathecal morphine pain pump.  After enduring almost seven years of unrelenting pain, the pump provided the plaintiff with his first significant relief. During this time, the plaintiff was also treated for major depression, anxiety and avoidance disorder using a combination of counseling, medications and participation in a CRPS support group.

The defendant initially claimed a sudden emergency defense based on hydroplaning. Discovery of the defendant’s medical records, however, revealed multiple admissions that she had no recollection of the accident, which she conceded at her deposition. At that point, that defense was abandoned and liability was admitted. A global mediation conducted by Judge Diane Strickland in Danville brought together the two liability carriers, two UIM carriers and the workers’ compensation carrier. There was only $100,000 in total liability coverage. Erie had the largest exposure in the personal injury case with $650,000 of UIM on the employer’s truck. Erie was also the workers’ comp carrier. After dividing the mediation into two separate parts, Strickland facilitated a settlement of the personal injury case for $831,000, which represented 98 percent of the available insurance coverage. The workers’ compensation claim was then settled for $369,619 via a combination of lump sum payment and subrogation lien waiver.  Susan Wirt assisted as both a nurse case manager and life care planner and helped to overcome the comp carrier’s repeated denials of recommended medical treatment and attempts to force the plaintiff to return to work at a job beyond his capabilities.



Type of action: Personal injury and workers’ compensation
Injuries alleged: Left highly comminuted intra-articular calcaneus fracture, diffuse fracture blisters, malunion/nonunion, nerve entrapment, claw toe, post-traumatic arthritis, tarsal tunnel syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, depression/anxiety/avoidance disorder
Name of cases: Hyler v. Witt; Hyler v. Powell Trucking LLC
Court: Pittsylvania County Circuit Court; Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
Resolved by: Mediation
Mediator: Diane M. Strickland
Verdict or Settlement: Settlement
Amount: $1,200,619.09 (personal injury – $831,000; workers’ comp – $369,619.09)
Attorneys for plaintiff: Craig B. Davis, Richmond; Robert L. Whitt Jr., Danville
Plaintiff’s experts: Dr. Thomas Shuler, orthopedic surgery; Dr. Boyd Clements, podiatry; Dr. Chheany Ung, pain management; Dr. Monty Baylor, pain management, plaintiff’s IME; Susan Wirt, life care planner and nurse case manager; Dr. Larry Lynch, economist; Asha Kay, multimedia and medical illustrations


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