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Distracted driving leads to collision, $1.25M settlement

A homeless man struck from behind while riding his bicycle, allegedly by a driver distracted by his ice cream sandwich, has agreed to a pretrial settlement totaling $1.25 million, his attorneys report.

Levine

Levine

Michael Levine of the Levine Law Group in Mooresville said in a statement that the man, Norman Kelly, was heading “home” — to a tent in the woods — when he was struck by a vehicle driven by David McCraw. Kelly was knocked from his bike, Levine said, and suffered several traumatic injuries, including cervical spine fractures that severely limited the use of his legs, arms and hands. He now uses a powered wheelchair for mobility and requires around-the-clock care, Levine added.

According to Levine, McCraw said during a deposition that he was opening an ice cream sandwich when he struck what he thought was a mailbox. McCraw kept on driving, Levine said, until he had to stop for a flat tire. McCraw called his father and, after the pair changed the tire, drove home “despite seeing emergency vehicles responding to the area of the collision,” Levine said. McCraw returned to the scene later that night, and was charged with reckless driving and hit and run, Levine said.

At the time of the collision, Kelly was being represented by another attorney in Levine’s firm on a disability benefits claim against the Social Security Administration.

Levine enlisted life care planner Cynthia Wilhelm, Ph.D., of Chapel Hill, because of the permanent nature of Kelly’s injuries. According to Levine, Wilhelm anticipated the cost of Kelly’s future care “in the millions of dollars,” but Allstate, McCraw’s insurance carrier, refused to make a settlement offer. Levine said that the defendants believed Kelly to be contributorily negligent because his bike lacked proper lighting. But the witness who dialed 911 reportedly did so after noticing the blinking lights on Kelly’s bike.

Gooden

Gooden

“Mr. McCraw couldn’t be bothered to stop at the scene and Allstate couldn’t be bothered to make an actual offer,” Levine said. … “Allstate thought this was just a bum on a bike at night and that he didn’t have a case, but it wasn’t that at all.”

Ultimately, Levine said, the parties agreed at a mediated settlement conference to settle the case upon proof that $1.25 million exhausted the applicable insurance coverage.

 

Follow Heath Hamacher on Twitter @NCLWHamacher

 

SETTLEMENT REPORT – PERSONAL INJURY

Amount: $1.25 million

Case name: None (case settled pre-suit)

Mediator: Timothy Patty

Date of settlement: May 17

Most helpful experts: Life care planner Cynthia Wilhelm, Ph.D., of Chapel Hill

Attorneys for plaintiff: Michael Levine and Tom Gooden of the Levine Law Group in Mooresville

Attorneys for defendants: Walter Burton and Cam Bordman of Burton, Sue & Anderson in Greensboro

 


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