Type of action: Auto accident
Injuries alleged: Mild traumatic brain injury, post-concussion syndrome, tinnitus and cervical strain
Tried before: Mediation
Name of judge or mediator: James W. Barkley
Date resolved: 1/21/2021
Special damages: Past medical expenses totaling $66,000; anticipated future medical expenses estimated to be $165,000
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorneys for plaintiff (and city): Kevin W. Mottley and Benjamin P. Kyber, Richmond
Description of case: The firm’s client was a passenger in a friend’s pickup truck. The pickup truck came to a stop for a school bus letting students off the bus. In between the truck and the school bus were two other stopped cars. A construction truck driven by an employee of the corporate defendant was rapidly approaching from behind. The employee had just finished a phone call on his handheld cell phone and was putting the phone down in the center console. When he looked up, he did not have enough time to stop. The company truck slammed into the back of the plaintiff’s truck at approximately 60-65 mph. There were no skid marks at the scene. The collision was so severe that the truck in which our client was a passenger was rammed into the car in front of it, causing substantial damage to it. That car, in turn, was rammed into the car in front of it. The client’s seat back broke, as did the seat back of his friend who was driving the truck.
Our client’s last memory was of hearing an “explosion” at the time of impact. He was able to extricate himself from the truck. Photographs taken by Virginia State Police show our client wandering around the accident scene, while the EMTs on scene tended to his friend. The EMT crew at the scene gave the friend more attention because he seemed to be the one who was injured the most. The ambulance took the driver to the hospital with our client riding as a passenger in the front seat of the ambulance. At the emergency room, only the driver received attention, and our client was not formally evaluated by emergency room personnel, and no medical records revealed any sort of examination of our client by anyone on the day of the crash.
Over the ensuing days, our client’s coworkers and his family noticed he was having problems focusing and that he was not acting like himself. The client went to see his primary care physician three days after the crash. She immediately diagnosed him as having suffered a concussion, otherwise known as a mild traumatic brain injury, in the crash. She referred him to a local concussion clinic where he saw a specialist who focuses her practice on the treatment of mild traumatic brain injuries. That doctor, a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, also diagnosed a mild traumatic brain injury. She believed he had suffered a “coup contrecoup” injury, in which his brain had moved back and forth within his skull at the time of the rear-end collision, and again when the truck slammed into the car in front of it. After several months of persistent symptoms, she diagnosed our client as suffering from post-concussion syndrome. After a year of treatment, his medical providers felt his post-concussion syndrome was permanent.
A neuropsychologist performed two rounds of neuropsychological testing and found impairments in the client’s cognitive abilities. The client experienced lingering tinnitus, memory problems, mood and irritability problems, balance problems, headaches, concentration and focus problems and photophobia. He also struggled with fatigue and pain associated with the whiplash injury he suffered in the crash. The client, who had worked in a professional setting for more than 30 years, struggled to provide services to his customers for several years after the crash. During discovery, defense lawyers took the depositions of several coworkers who expressed concerns about our client’s job performance since the crash. As a direct result of the issues brought to light by the deposition testimony, leadership at the client’s place of employment decided to require that our client be supervised by another owner in the performance of his professional work. Ultimately, our client’s medical consultants opined that he could not perform the job he had been performing at the time of the crash due to his traumatic brain injury.
After more than a year of litigation, the case settled several weeks before the scheduled trial for $1,800,000.
The client’s past medical expenses totaled $66,000. The client’s anticipated future medical expenses according to a life care plan were about $165,000. The client’s future lost earning capacity was estimated to be $680,000 due to his inability to continue performing the job he was performing at the time of the crash.