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Scooter rider settles for $775K after drilling truck hit him

Scooter rider settles for $775K after drilling truck hit him

Plaintiff was employed full-time and largely self-sufficient prior to the accident, living independently, with no government assistance or services. Plaintiff was working approximately 40 hours per week for a regional grocery chain, but had no health insurance. Plaintiff rode his motor scooter 1½ hours each way on mountain roads to get to and from work daily.

There was no evidence of any closed-head injury arising from the accident. After the accident plaintiff was hospitalized for three weeks, was in a rehabilitation facility for almost five months, and thereafter had to live in a residential assisted-living facility.

Following the accident, plaintiff qualified for Social Security Disability, Medicaid, Social Security Special Assistance, and Developmental Disability Services (plaintiff would have qualified for Developmental Disability Services before the accident, but had never availed himself of those services).

Plaintiff rejoined employment after the accident, but after a trial period, was able to work only greatly diminished hours in a lesser position. Plaintiff contended that many of the unusual psychological effects from the accident were because of the peculiar susceptibility of the plaintiff (effects of a head injury as an infant), and defendants contended that effects were related to the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition and not the accident.

Positions of both plaintiff and defendants were supported by credible expert witnesses. Additionally the complications from psychotropic medications first prescribed after the accident were a source of dispute.


Settlement Report

Type of action: Damages arising from a motor vehicle accident in which a commercial well-drilling truck crossed the centerline and ran over plaintiff, who was driving a motor scooter.

Injuries alleged: Plaintiff suffered multiple fractures of the legs and a compound fracture to the left arm. Additionally, plaintiff, who had suffered a closed-head injury as a child, exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome, adjustment disorder and other related diagnosable disorders following the accident.

Case name: Confidential

Case number: Confidential

Court: Buncombe County Superior Court

Judge: Hon. James L. Baker

Verdict or settlement: Settled three weeks prior to trial. (Mediation 15 months earlier resulted in impasse.)

Date: Aug. 30, 2010

Amount: $775,000

Special damages: $42,186 (hospital lien) and $51,036 (Medicaid lien)    

Insurer: Confidential    

Experts: For plaintiff: James Bellard, M.D., psychiatrist; Pete Sansbury, Ph.D., psychologist; Cynthia Wilhelm, life-care planner; and James Vander Weide, Ph.D., economist

Plaintiff’s attorney: Bryant D. Webster and William H. Christy, both of Stone & Christy (Black Mountain)


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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