Virginia Lawyers Weekly//April 6, 2020
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//April 6, 2020//
On Dec. 5, 2016, the plaintiff, who was in his 70s at the time of the crash, was working as an auto parts delivery driver for his employer, O’Reilly Auto Parts in Blackstone. He was driving a company car on Route 40 in Blackstone and was approaching the main entrance to Fort Pickett. As he approached the intersection, a yellow DHL delivery van pulled out in front of him after running a stop sign, resulting in a T-bone type collision.
In the crash, the plaintiff’s right knee hit the dashboard in his car, shattering the knee, and his face slammed into the deployed air bag, resulting in a gash to his forehead. He was taken by ambulance from the scene of the accident to Southside Community Hospital in South Hill. X-rays of his right leg showed that he fractured the right tibial plateau. The day after the accident, he underwent surgery on his leg and knee by Dr. Rupal Patel, an orthopedic surgeon at Southside Community Hospital. For several months after that, he received physical therapy at home and at the office of a physical therapist in South Hill. After several months of physical therapy, he was released from physical therapy.
Although the records from the emergency room indicated that he had an abrasion on his forehead from the airbag, the records said nothing about the plaintiff suffering a traumatic brain injury, or a concussion, in the crash. The records said that he did not “lose consciousness” in the crash. The plaintiff did not recall whether he did or did not lose consciousness. But he could not remember certain aspects of what happened.
Several months after the accident, the plaintiff told his primary care medical provider, a nurse practitioner, that he was experiencing double-vision, ringing in his ears, and problems with his balance. She referred the plaintiff to brain injury medicine specialist Gregory J. O’Shanick, M.D., in Richmond. Dr. O’Shanick diagnosed the plaintiff with a mild traumatic brain injury from the crash.
The effects of the TBI lingered and failed to go away entirely. In addition, the orthopedic injury to the plaintiff’s knee continued to cause him difficulty, and negatively affected his ability to walk and to maintain his balance. Following the surgery, he required the use of a cane. The plaintiff lost his job due to his inability to do the physical requirements of the job, sending the plaintiff to an early retirement. Suit was filed to recover damages for the medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering experienced by the plaintiff as a result of the collision.
One of the biggest issues in the case concerned whether DHL was responsible for the crash. DHL hired another company called Dominion Management Group Enterprises, Inc. (“DMGE”) to operate its delivery vans in Virginia. DMGE, in turn, hired the driver of the van who ran the stop sign. One of the biggest issues in the case was whether DHL should be responsible for the crash given that it hired another company to do the work.
Another challenge in the case was the plaintiff’s age, 73. Because of his age, his work-life expectancy was not that large, which resulted in the claim for lost earnings in the future to be lower.
Before trial, the parties agreed to settle the plaintiff’s claims for $725,000.
Injuries alleged: Mild traumatic brain injury, fracture to the tibial plateau (knee)
Name of case: Thompson v. DHL Express (USA), Inc., et al.
Court: Chesterfield Circuit Court
Case no.: CL18-390
Name of mediator: Hon. Michael Allen (Ret.)
Date resolved: May 17, 2019
Special damages: $116,800 medical expenses, $45,000 in claimed past lost wages
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorneys for plaintiff: Kevin W. Mottley and Benjamin P. Kyber, Richmond
Plaintiff’s experts: Gregory J. O’Shanick, M.D., brain injury medicine; Rupal M. Patel, M.D., orthopedic surgery; Betty Overbey, life care planner; Charles Bonner, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation
Defendant’s experts: Martin Buxton, M.D., psychiatry; J. Christopher Smith, M.D., neuroradiology; Sarbjot S. Dulai, M.D., neurology; Susan Riddick-Grisham, RN, life care planner
Insurance carrier: Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company