Type of action: Personal injury
Injuries alleged: Traumatic brain injury
Name of case: Snipes v. Winslow
Court: Virginia Beach Circuit Court
Tried before: Mediation
Name of judge or mediator: Judge Thomas Shadrick (Ret.)
Special damages: Past medical expenses totaling $797,093
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorneys for plaintiff (and city): Griffin O’Hanlon and Bill O’Mara Jr., Norfolk; John Rasmussen, Richmond
Description of case: Employer requested that the plaintiff assist in delivering a work van with mechanical issues to a nearby salvage yard. The plaintiff drove the work van while the employer drove a separate vehicle to give the plaintiff a ride back. While stopped at a red light on a 45 mph road, the work van stalled. The plaintiff engaged his flashers and exited the disabled vehicle. The plaintiff and his employer decided to tow the disabled van out of the roadway, so the employer grabbed tow straps from his vehicle. While the plaintiff was attaching the tow straps, the defendant collided with the rear of the disabled vehicle crushing the plaintiff underneath. The plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury and was unable to work for an extended period of time. Liability was contested. The plaintiff claimed future medical expenses and diminished earning capacity. Damages were mostly uncontested.
The plaintiff sought additional underinsured motorist coverage from State Farm, which insured the vehicle driven by the employer. State Farm defended the action under a reservation of rights. John Rasmussen, as coverage counsel for the plaintiff, successfully argued at mediation that while the plaintiff never occupied the employer’s vehicle, the State Farm underinsured motorist coverage was available to the plaintiff because the employer’s vehicle was part of the “shared mission” in accompanying the work van to the salvage yard, and it was going to be used to tow the disabled vehicle from the roadway.