On Oct. 17, 2013, the defendant was driving a van through a parking lot in Norfolk. Defendant traveled in the wrong direction against the angled parking spaces and attempted to make a severe turn into a space. When defendant backed out of the space, he failed to see the plaintiff, a pedestrian, walking in the correct direction toward the storefronts. The van backed into the plaintiff at a slow speed, knocking him to the asphalt, where the back of his head struck the pavement.
At the scene, plaintiff was bleeding from the head. During transport, he was confused but awake. At the ER, plaintiff was initially responsive but “crashed,” requiring an emergency CT scan of the brain. Radiology revealed a substantial subdural hematoma and emergency surgery was performed to remove a portion of the plaintiff’s skull. Plaintiff recovered from surgery and left the hospital without the skull portion, wearing a protective helmet for months. His recovery proceeded to the point where his skull could be surgically replaced, and he endured a considerable amount of rehabilitative therapy including physical, occupational and cognitive.
The plaintiff was a 62-year-old amateur musician, living on a sailboat and working as a senior CADD operator. As a result of his injury, the loss of his skull and his balance disorder, it was no longer safe to live on the boat and he had to sell it. Also, he could no longer recall how to play the guitar as before. He suffered an estimated loss of 11 IQ points based upon neuropsychological testing, performed by Dr. Michael Stutts, but remarkably was able to return to his prior work within six months. He subsequently retired after trying to resume his duties. Plaintiff is quite resilient, and now, almost two years after his injury, he was able to resume living on the water with his long-time friend and their dog.
Discovery and depositions of several witnesses, as well as the defendant, along with extensive photography of the parking lot striping over time, was necessary to confirm the liability, as the plaintiff’s injury resulted in a loss of his memory for the event. It was discovered that the defendant had a liability policy with $250,000 limits and an additional umbrella policy with limits of $1,000,000. State Farm’s representative was quite compassionate regarding the plaintiff’s injuries, and through a series of negotiations, ultimately offered the settlement amount of $1,000,000.
Type of action: Personal injury – auto/pedestrian accident
Injuries alleged: Plaintiff suffered a substantial intracranial hemorrhage and subdural hematoma requiring craniectomy
Name of case: Harris v. Barrett
Court: Norfolk Circuit Court
Case no.: CL14-3904
Date resolved: Nov. 10, 2014
Special damages: Medical bills exceeded $192,000; lost wage claim exceeded $18,000
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorney for plaintiff: Gregory L. Sandler, Virginia Beach
Attorney for defendant: Sally J. Moore, Virginia Beach
Plaintiff’s experts: Dr. Jerone Kennedy, neurosurgery; Dr. Michael Stutts, neuropsychology
Defendant’s experts: None
Insurance carrier: State Farm