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Driver recovers in case of who-had-green-light – $125,000 Verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//June 18, 2018

Driver recovers in case of who-had-green-light – $125,000 Verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//June 18, 2018

On Aug. 19, 2014, the plaintiff was traveling southbound on South Boston Road in Fluvanna County, proceeding through the intersection with Slice Road. The defendant was traveling northbound on South Boston Road, made a left turn onto Slice Road, and collided with the plaintiff in the intersection. The intersection was controlled by a traffic signal. The plaintiff claimed he was faced with a solid green signal, and the defendant claimed she was faced with a green left turn arrow. The plaintiff was charged with reckless driving by the investigating officer.

The plaintiff was taken by ambulance from the scene to Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, where he was diagnosed with a complete patellar tendon rupture of the left knee. This was repaired operatively by the plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon, David Nielsen, on Aug. 27, 2014, eight days following the collision. The plaintiff continued to see Dr. Nielsen for follow-up care of his knee. His total medical expenses were $7,351.56. He missed three weeks of work as a propane delivery driver, and incurred lost earnings of $3,444.00.

At trial the defendant testified that she had come to a stop at the intersection of South Boston Road and Slice Road, and waited for a green arrow before proceeding with her turn. Her account was supported by the testimony of her passenger, as well as the driver of the vehicle traveling behind her. These two witnesses offered by the defendant also stated they believed the plaintiff was speeding, going approximately 55-60 mph in a 45 mph zone, as he approached the intersection.

The plaintiff offered the testimony of a driver stopped on Slice Road at the time of the collision. He stated that he could not see the color of the lights controlling traffic on South Boston Road, but he saw the defendant begin her left turn without stopping at the intersection, and he did not believe the plaintiff was speeding. The plaintiff also presented the testimony of the traffic engineer who designed the signal at the intersection, who testified that the left turn arrow is activated by a sensor, such that a vehicle has to stop at the intersection and be detected before receiving a green arrow.

Dr. Nielsen testified that as a result of the patellar tendon rupture, the plaintiff was likely to develop post-traumatic arthritis in the future which would require medical treatments including cortisone injections, physical therapy, arthroscopy, and ultimately knee replacement. He testified that in total these treatments would cost $77,300.00. The medical expert offered by the defense, William Andrews, conceded the plaintiff’s initial injury and treatment, but testified that the nature of his injury was such that it would be impossible to develop post-traumatic arthritis, and disputed the necessity of any future treatment.

The jury deliberated for approximately one hour and 15 minutes before returning a verdict for the plaintiff of $125,000.


Type of action: Personal Injury

Injuries alleged: Patellar tendon rupture with post-traumatic arthritis.

Name of case: Miller v. Edgerton

Court: Fluvanna Circuit Court

Case no.: CL16-118

Tried before: Jury

Name of judge: Hon. Humes J. Franklin Jr.

Date resolved: Nov. 3, 2017

Special damages: Medical expenses of $7,351.56; lost earnings of $3,444; future medical expenses of $77,300.

Demand: $190,000 ad damnum

Verdict or settlement: Verdict

Amount: $125,000

Attorneys for plaintiff: Courtney A. Van Winkle, Richmond; David M. Irvine, Charlottesville

Plaintiff’s experts: David A. Nielsen, D.O.; John P. Holst (traffic engineer)

Defendant’s experts: William C. Andrews, M.D.

Insurance carrier: USAA (liability); State Farm (UIM)

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