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$4.5M settlement in suit over brain injury from accident

The case involved a Hispanic female in her early 40s who was a legal resident from the Dominican Republic. Plaintiff had been in the United States for only a few months, living in New Jersey but in North Carolina at the time of the wreck visiting friends.

Her initial injuries included traumatic brain injury, fractured L1 vertebrae and duodenal rupture. The L1 fracture was managed conservatively without surgery but caused chronic pain.

Upon her return to New Jersey, the plaintiff continued with significant head injury sequelae, becoming dependent upon family and friends for many of her activities of daily living.

The defense contended, however, that her deficits, though seemingly significant, were not consistent with her initial medical presentation, especially with regard to the brain injury, and hired a private investigator to conduct surveillance of the plaintiff.

Mediation was initially unsuccessful, but negotiations continued, and the case ultimately resolved approximately one month later and five months prior to the trial date.

Settlement Report

Type of action: Automobile accident

Injuries alleged: Traumatic brain injury, spinal fracture, abdominal injuries

Case name: Confidential

Case number: Confidential

Court: Confidential; suit filed in federal court

Verdict or settlement: Settlement

Date: December 2010

Amount: $4.5 million

Special damages: $450,000 in medical bills, claim for future lost wages   

Insurer: Confidential

Experts: Guy Fried, M.D., physical medicine/rehabilitation (Philadelphia); Thomas Gualtieri, M.D., neuropsychiatry (Chapel Hill); William Burke, Ph.D., vocational rehabilitation and life-care planning; Mike Sutton, accident reconstruction and engineering (Raleigh)

Were liability and/or damages contested? Liability initially contested but later admitted, extent of injury and damages contested

Was the opposing party represented by legal counsel? Yes

Has the plaintiff been successful in actually collecting the judgment or settlement? Yes

Plaintiff’s attorney: Thomas W. Henson Jr. of HensonFuerst (Raleigh)

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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