The plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle/motorcycle collision in Middlesex County. The collision occurred on Oct. 6, 2012, at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Old Virginia Street approximately one-half mile north of its intersection with Route 691. The plaintiff was a passenger on a 2011 Harley Davidson motorcycle operated by her husband. They were heading north on Old Virginia Street. The speed limit in the area is 55 mph. The defendant was a longtime employee of a local lumber mill. He was operating a 1994 Ford F150 pickup truck owned by his employer south on Old Virginia Street. The plaintiff contended that the defendant was operating the pickup truck in the course and scope of his employment for the lumber mill. The defendant and his employer denied this allegation.
According to the plaintiff’s husband, the defendant’s vehicle sat still for several seconds in a stopped position on southbound Old Virginia Street. Without signaling, ever looking back in the direction of the motorcycle and when the motorcycle was only about 40-50 feet away, the defendant abruptly turned left in front of the motorcycle and into a driveway causing the collision. The defendant admitted to the investigating state trooper that he never saw the motorcycle. Plaintiff’s husband attempted to avoid the collision by slamming on brakes and lying the bike down on its side. The motorcycle struck the right side of the pickup truck behind the passenger cab. The plaintiff was ejected from the motorcycle and became entangled in the right wheel well of the truck, was run over and severely injured.
Among other injuries, the plaintiff sustained a compound, severely comminuted intra-articular fracture of the right femur. She sustained a right mandibular jaw fracture and a lacerated and ruptured spleen. She also sustained an L4 transverse process fracture, chest contusions and a partially collapsed lung, among other significant and life-changing injuries. A ground ambulance responded to the scene, but due to the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries, she was airlifted from the scene of the collision to VCU Medical Center in Richmond where she remained hospitalized for almost three weeks.
Upon arrival, the plaintiff’s right femur fracture required extensive and complicated operative irrigation and debridement. At that time, an external fixator was placed. Two days later, the plaintiff underwent another operation and fixation of her jaw fracture. It was wired shut. She consumed all food in liquid form for approximately six weeks. Four days after the accident, the plaintiff’s spleen was removed and exploratory abdominal surgery performed. Approximately two weeks after the collision, the plaintiff’s external fixator was removed and she underwent another operation to include open reduction and internal fixation of her femur fracture. Antibiotic beads were installed in the surgical site to prevent infection.
The plaintiff was released from the hospital on Oct. 23, 2012. During the course of the next several months, it became apparent to the plaintiff’s orthopedic doctors that her femur fracture had not healed and “nonunion” had developed. The plaintiff also developed necrotic tissue on her right leg, which was debrided on multiple occasions. The plaintiff was readmitted to the hospital on Feb. 20, 2013, when she underwent iliac crest allograft of her femur fracture. Following this procedure and as a complication of her treatment, plaintiff was diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis in her right leg, which required prolonged Coumadin therapy. After the plaintiff’s surgeries, she began extensive rehabilitation. Her leg atrophied. She was placed on medication for her chronic pain. The plaintiff was unable to walk for several months, gradually progressing from a wheelchair to a walker, to crutches, to one crutch and eventually to a cane. She continues to suffer from fatigue and balance difficulties as a result of the permanent injuries to her leg and her spine.
On Sep. 4, 2014, the plaintiff’s orthopedic physician concluded that she had reached maximum medical improvement, but with permanent residuals to include painful scars, cosmetic deformity, loss of quadriceps muscles with atrophy and weakness, limited right knee motion and post-traumatic arthritis. This physician calculated a 40 percent permanent partial impairment of the plaintiff’s right lower extremity. He also opined that the plaintiff’s arthritis would worsen with time and despite conservative treatment that the plaintiff would eventually require a total right knee joint replacement. Thereafter, the plaintiff was evaluated by a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician and referred for pain management. The plaintiff remained under the care of her pain management specialist at the time the claim was resolved.[15-T-213]
Type of action: Personal injury – auto/motorcycle accident
Injuries alleged: Compound and severely comminuted intra-articular fracture of the right femur, right mandibular jaw fracture, lacerated and ruptured spleen, L4 transverse process fracture, chest contusions and partially collapsed lung
Court: Middlesex County Circuit Court
Resolved by: Mediation
Judge: F. Bradford Stillman
Date resolved: Nov. 8, 2015
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorney for plaintiff: Daniel M. Schieble, Virginia Beach
Plaintiff’s experts: Mark Willis, M.D., treating orthopedic surgeon; John Bruno, M.D., consulting orthopedic surgeon; Charles Bonner, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation physician; Yao Ming Gu, M.D., pain management specialist; Betty S. Overbey, RN, case management consultant – life care plan; Peder K. Melberg, Ph.D., vocational consultant
Insurance carrier: Pennsylvania Lumberman’s Insurance Company, Cincinnati Insurance Company