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Worker hit by tractor-trailer on highway settles claim

The plaintiff, after mowing the grassy shoulder of U.S. 64, was in the process of moving his tractor mower to a new location on U.S. 421, just outside of Siler City, when his mower was hit from the rear by a tractor-trailer truck.
The incident occurred on Oct. 14, 2008, while the plaintiff was in the course and scope of his employment.
The truck driver was charged with failure to reduce speed and careless and reckless driving.
As a direct result of the collision, the plaintiff was transported by helicopter to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, where he underwent emergency surgery. The plaintiff sustained significant injuries to his cervical spine, which ultimately left him quadriplegic.
The trucking company carried primary coverage in the amount of $1 million and excess coverage of $1 million for a total combined insurance limit of $2 million. The trucking company was a small, locally owned business and had no other assets.
The liability case settled for the $2 million policy limits less personal property damage. Two separate structured-settlement accounts were established together with a lump-sum payout.
The workers’ compensation lien was projected by a life-care planner to be an amount in excess of $4.5 million, with actual workers’ compensation benefits paid in excess of $1 million at the time of the filing of a petition to determine the amount of the workers’ compensation lien from third-party proceeds pursuant to G.S. Sect. 97-10.2(j).
The workers’ compensation lien settled prior to hearing before the Honorable John O. Craig III, in the amount of $100,000, with total workers’ compensation benefits continuing on behalf of the insurer for the remainder of the plaintiff’s life.
Discussions are ongoing as to a potential final clincher agreement.

Settlement Report

Type of action: Motor-vehicle negligence and workers’ compensation (reduction of workers’ compensation lien)
Injuries alleged: Cervical spine trauma resulting in quadriplegia
Case name: Confidential
Case number: Confidential
Court: Yadkin County Superior Court
Judge: Hon. John O. Craig III (tort case was settled pre-suit); workers’ compensation case pending
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Date: June 2009
Amount: $6.5 million-plus projected total settlement (tort case settled for policy limits of $2 million less property damage; projected workers’ compensation settlement is $4.5 million, with total paid to date in the range of $1.5 million)
Special damages: Projected in excess of $4 million
Insurer: Confidential
Plaintiff’s attorney: Robert D. Rouse III of Law Offices of Robert D. Rouse III (Greenville and Morehead City)
Editor’s note: The information in Lawyers Weekly’s verdicts and settlements reports was submitted by the counsel for the prevailing party and represents the attorney’s characterization of the case.

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