Lumbar Fusion Damages: Jury Awards 32 Year Old Woman Only $75,000; Appeals Court Still Too Low At $225,000

Deanna Kmiotek was 32 years old on July 8, 2004, sitting in her car at a red light in hometown Amherst, New York when out of nowhere the town's dump truck carrying an 18 ton load smashed into the rear of her car. She was seriously injured and sued the town for her damages.

A judge ruled well before trial that the facts and fault were plain and that the issue of fault need not be addressed at trail; the only issue at trial would be the amount of damages.

Deanna sustained herniations in her back requiring surgery to fuse lumbar discs at L4-5 and L5-S1 with a bone graft from her pelvis and the insertion of two metal titanium rods and six screws. As a result, she could no longer work either at home or as a commercial cleaner and she could no longer pick up her children or give then baths.

Here's what a spine looks like after lumbar fusion surgery:

The town offered $250,000 to settle before trial but the offer was rejected. In November 2007, an Erie County jury awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $75,000 ($35,000 past, $40,000 future). On appeal in Kmiotek v. Chaba, $75,000 was held to be unreasonably low and $225,000 ($75,000 past, $150,000 future) was found to be the minimum amount the jury could have awarded as a matter of law based on the evidence at trial.

The amount determined by the appellate court as reasonable in this case is strikingly lower than awards in similar cases and the court should have ordered an increase to at least $500,000.

It cannot be repeated enough that each case, each person, each injury and each recovery is unique so there's no one guideline or set of numbers to look to when ruling on appropriate pain and suffering damage figures. That said, the appellate courts in New York routinely rule in these cases by looking to prior cases for guidance.

Had a thorough review of precedent been undertaken and relied upon, it's clear to me that Ms. Kmiotek would have had her paltry $75,000 jury verdict increased to more than $225,000 - say, $500,000 or more. Here are cases that the appeals court did not mention in its decision:

Baird v. V.I.P. Management Co., Inc. - $700,000 ($400,000 past, $300,000 future) for a Westchester County woman who fell and underwent three surgeries with bone grafts to fuse and repair two cervical discs. Plaintiff in that case testified she was in constant pain and could not work; although she admitted on cross-examination that she had told her doctors before trial that she was improving and in less pain. Kihl v. Pfeffer - $1,845,000 ($625,000 past, $1,200,000 future) for a 38 year old passenger in a car accident who sustained a neck injury that required spinal fusion surgery involving the removal of her disc at C2-3 and its replacement with bone from her hip. Unfortunately, surgery made her worse and her doctors had to implant a permanent morphine pump to alleviate her pain. Barrowman v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. - $3,000,000 for a worker who fell off a scaffold 12 feet down to a concrete floor. He sustained herniated discs in his neck and back requiring spinal fusions with bone grafts. There was evidence that his neck and back injuries would worsen and more surgery would be needed.

Here are side and back views of the whole spine:

Inside Information:

Defense counsel argued in summation that plaintiff sought a big damage award so that the Town of Amherst could buy her a new building. Counsel was playing to the well known reluctance of jurors to render big damage awards against their own municipalities.

Defense counsel also suggested repeatedly in closing that a 10 year old car accident plaintiff had been involved in somehow caused the injuries plaintiff was suing for in the 2004 accident lawsuit - this despite the fact that the defense offered no proof at all as to any lingering injuries.

Juries and courts are often affected by and reduce pain and suffering verdicts because of any bits of information as to any prior injuries or accidents. A good example of this is found in Sanz v. MTA-Long Island Bus where an appellate court reduced a jury's award from $750,000 to $400,000 in a cervical fusion case apparently influenced by facts related to an accident and injury eight years earlier.

Plaintiff's counsel objected to what he called improper, unethical closing argument statements made by defense counsel, such as above, that were intended to influence the jury and the appellate court agreed that the statements were improper. But not so improper that plaintiff should be afforded a new trial on damages.

The appeals court in the Kmiotek case missed the ball on two counts:

Its increase of the paltry $75,000 verdict to $225,000 was much too low in view of plaintiff's debilitating injuries and similar prior sustained verdicts.

Second, defense counsel's statements to the jury in closing were outrageous, and should have resulted in a new trial so that a new jury could rule on damages without being affected by improper arguments that clearly influenced them to render such a meager award.



Posted by Jeff Under

According to the Chicago Tribune, a jury in Will County, Illinois awarded a $24 million verdict to the families of two people killed, as well as another person who was seriously injured, in a multiple car.eighteen wheeler crash in April 2004. The verdict was rendered against C.H. Robinson Worldwide Trucking, a Minnesota trucking company, and the truck driver, DeAn Henry.

A story on said that Joseph Sperl was on I-55 the day of the accident, slowing in traffic, when his car was hit by the tractor-trailer. Mr. Sperl was killed in the accident. The tractor-trailer also hit a car driven by Thomas Sanders, who lost his life in the accident. Five other people were injured in the accident that day.

Henry, the driver of the tractor-trailer, subsequently plead guilty to charges of driving on a suspended license and falsifying her log book, in relation to the accident. The $24 million verdict was the highest verdict in the past fifty years in Will County.


At first glance, it may appear that no one was at fault by a tree simply falling, even though it caused severe injuries. However, in any case such as this, an experienced Philadelphia attorney should conduct a thorough investigation. In the Mendez case, Mendez sued the property owner, the City of Philadelphia, the Fairmount Park Commission and the cement contractor. Apparently, after an investigation into the accident, it was found that the property owner contended that he had made reports to the City of Philadelphia and the Commission that the tree was problematic. This case is a good example of the need to fully investigate an accident to make sure all potential responsible defendants are sued. The property owner had homeowner’s insurance with Nationwide Insurance, but with a policy limit of $100,000. This accident may have first appeared to be nobody’s fault, or only the fault of the property owner. If only the property owner was sued, Ms. Mendez would have most likely only recovered $100,000. However, an experienced injury lawyer will know that a thorough investigation of the accident or injury may show that multiple people or entities were negligent in knowing of the potential danger. This will allow multiple insurance policies or defendants to be in the case to maximize the recovery for a serious injury.

Source: Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer, February 27, 2009


Mar 26, 2009

– Top Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers, Passen Law Group secured a record jury verdict in Illinois on behalf of their clients who were injured when their car was rear-ended by a semi tractor-trailer.

A Cook County, Illinois jury returned a verdict yesterday of $610,000 for a married couple, ages 80 and 76, whose vehicle was rear-ended by a semi truck on I-90 near the Illinois.Wisconsin border on April 12, 2004.

The couple filed a personal injury lawsuit against the trucking company, Inland Traffic Consulting Corp. The defendant admitted negligence, but claimed the plaintiffs were not injured as a result of the accident to the degree and extent alleged.

The 76-year-old wife sustained soft tissue injuries to her neck, shoulders and upper back. She incurred $55,255.30 in medical bills. She was treated by her primary care physician and received physical therapy through the present time. The defense argued that she was fully healed as of September 2004. The jury awarded her $550,000, including damages for future medical treatment, pain and suffering and loss of normal life.

According to the editor of the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter, the $550,000 verdict to a 76-year-old female is the highest verdict ever reported anywhere in Illinois to a plaintiff over the age of 60 for purely soft tissue injuries.

Her 80-year-old husband sustained an injury to his right shoulder as a result of the motor vehicle accident, which led to him having surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in 2007. He incurred $25,987.50 in medical bills. The defense argued that the rotator cuff tear was a preexisting condition that was only temporarily aggravated. The jury awarded him $60,000. The husband was unfortunately unable to have rotator cuff repair surgery until June 2007 because of unrelated cardiac problems.

The case was tried in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, by Stephen M. Passen and Matthew A. Passen of Passen Law Group for the plaintiffs. Passen Law Group is a Top Chicago Personal Injury Law Firm based in Chicago, Illinois.


Car Accident Injury Verdicts

Car accident cases are among the most common personal injury cases. Police departments across the country reported more than six million motor vehicle accidents in 2005. Nearly 1.3 of those accidents, or nearly two million accidents, resulted in an injury. More than 39,000 of those automobile accidents resulted in at least one death.

In addition to the personal injuries sustained by car accident victims, hundreds of thousands-or even millions-of other accident victims had property damage claims against the driver who was at fault. In other cases, it was the manufacturer of a defective component who was at fault, after a brake failure or an accident caused by a tire blow-out.

The car accident verdicts and automobile-related personal injury settlements described below have been gathered from all over the country, from serious accidents and relatively minor ones, from large cities and rural areas, to provide a sampling of the recoveries sometimes associated with car accident injuries. Settlements below are some of the most significant in the nation have been achieved by different law firms throughout the Unites States:

$20,000 for Woman Injured in Auto Accident

November 26, 2008

An Illinois jury awarded Jessica Johnson more than $20,000 in damages for injuries she sustained as a result of a car accident.

Johnson was rear-ended in 2005. The impact made her hit the car in front of her and she sustained serious injuries to her neck, back and head.

She was awarded $12,346.85 for her medical expenses and $8,000 for pain and suffering, although she had requested $30,000 for pain and suffering.


State Supreme Court: Ford Doesn't Have to Pay $27 Million Car Accident Verdict

October 28, 2008

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Ford Motor Co., the second largest automaker in the United States, would not have to pay a $27 million injury verdict to the family of a man who was killed when his 1996 Ford Escort was hit by another car.

The 46-year-old man died of head injuries after his car seat collapsed backwards during the car crash. A Chicago jury previously found that the seat design was defective and awarded the victim's family the verdict in 2005.

The court has now thrown out the injury verdict, saying that the jury instructions didn't include consideration that the car seat design may have prevented more injuries than it caused. "The jury was specifically instructed to focus its deliberations solely on whether the seat was unsafe when put to a reasonably foreseeable use," the court said. "A retrial is required because the jury was inadequately instructed."


$4.8 Million for Car Accident Injuries

July 29, 2008

Pennsylvania resident Karrie Lee settled a lawsuit for $4.8 million to receive compensation for medical injuries when an Amstan tractor-trailer truck struck her car after running a red light. Lee went into a coma for 9 days after she received an open depressed skull fracture as a result of the incident. The case had gone to trial at the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and was in its fifth day, when parties agreed to the settlement.


$600,000 for Car Accident Injuries from Wrong-Way Driver

July 1, 2008

Rameshbhai Bhakta of Texas and Champak R. Bhakta of Stewartville, Minnesota received a jury award of $600,000 from an Olmsted County jury. The two were struck head-on by Ryan Chose of Kassan, Minnesota, who was driving the wrong way down U.S. highway 63 near 48th Street Southwest in Rochester, Minnesota. Champak Bhakta suffered broken ribs and a lower back injury, while Rameshbhai Bhakta shattered his right upper arm and fractured his left lower leg when he was trapped in the rear seat of the vehicle. The latter Bhakta owned a hotel in Texas which he was forced to sell because of his injuries. Chose was charged in criminal court as well, pleading guilty to one count of criminal vehicular operation.


$1 million from federal government for fatal crashed caused by SD representative

June 17, 2008

The family of Randy Scott settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the federal government worth $1 million over allegations that former South Dakota Representative Bill Janklow caused a fatal crash with Scott in August 2003. Scott died after his Harley-Davidson struck the back of a Cadillac that Janklow drove through a stop sign. The US attorney in Minnesota concluded that Janklow was on official business at the time of the crash, leaving the federal government liable for financial damages that came as a result of Janklow's actions.


$5 million to family for death of bicyclist

June 3, 2008

The family of 55-year-old Michael J. McIntyre, a cyclist who was killed in an accident in 2005, was awarded $5 million from motorist Russell Renney, whom the suit claimed ran a stop sign, striking McIntyre and killing him. Renney was charged by police with running a stop sign, resulting in penalties of a one-year driver's license suspension, community service and a fine. There is no indication in the news report how Renney will pay the awarded amount.


$2.8 million for death of unborn child in accident

May 13, 2008

A woman from Hammonton, New Jersey reached a settlement with the city of Deptford, New Jersey over the wrongful death of her unborn child when a police car responding to an emergency call hit her vehicle and injured her in the ensuing accident. After an investigation, the city determined that the officer's actions were not reckless, and he was not suspended from the department. The 22-year-old reportedly incurred more than $1 million in medical bills after the accident, which combined with the wrongful death to result in the judgment of the $2.8 million settlement.


$500,000 for wrongful death in car accident

May 13, 2008

A Portland, Maine man was awarded a $536,837 settlement by a Cumberland County Superior Court by a driver whose minivan hit and killed his wife. Initially, police records indicate that the death of the 78-year-old woman was a hit-and-run, but witnesses later verified that the driver of the van did stop. No criminal charges were filed outside of the wrongful death lawsuit. Because the driver cannot afford the high settlement amount, her insurance carrier will be sued for the amount.


$4 Million to Florida Woman for Car Accident with State Citrus Inspector

May 6, 2008

A resident of Vero Beach, Florida reached a settlement with the state of Florida for $4 million to resolve a personal injury lawsuit over a car accident with a state-employed citrus inspector that left her partially paralyzed. Laura LaPorte, 51, was awarded $5.5 million by a jury. The verdict was affirmed by a circuit court appeal. However, the state had to vote in a claims bill authorizing the amount, due to a law that prohibits government and state agencies from paying out more than $200,000 for wrongful death accidents without a special bill. The state legislature agreed to the amount of $4 million.


$2 Million to Motorist for Car Accident

May 6, 2008

Illinois appellate court judge Richard Goldenhersh reached a $2.17 million settlement with Stephen Martin of Rockford, Illinois after a car that Goldenhersh was piloting crashed with Martin's vehicle, causing personal injuries. According to police reports, Goldenhersh was driving the car-with another appellate judge, James Donovan-that caused a three-vehicle accident that involved Martin. Goldenhersh previously settled a lawsuit with the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident; Donovan, the passenger, settled similar lawsuits with the two motorists as well.


$1 Million for Fatal Accident with Police Cruiser

May 6, 2008

The family of a Western Kentucky University student named Allison "Ali" Carter reached a settlement with the city of Bowling Green, Kentucky to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit after their daughter was killed in an accident with a Bowling Green police officer. According to police reports, the girl's vehicle was hit in the side by a police cruiser driven by officer David Hall. Sources indicate that the family began the lawsuit to get answers for their daughter's death.


$5 Million for Death of Wife and Daughter in Crash with Sheriff's Deputy

April 10, 2008

A jury in southeastern Kentucky awarded a verdict of $5.14 million to a man who sued the county after his wife and daughter were killed in an auto accident with a sheriff's deputy. The jury found the deputy in question to be 70 percent at fault in the crash, which occurred while the deputy was traveling at 90-105 mph in a 45-mph-zone after a dispatcher had canceled the emergency call. The man and his son, also in the accident, were badly injured, and much of the verdict was intended to compensate him for medical bills, pain and suffering and loss of future wages.


$500,000 to Family for Wrongful Death of 5-Year-Old in Accident

April 10, 2008

Lisa Freeman-Salazar and Andy Salazar, parents of a five-year-old daughter named Alexandria, settled a wrongful death lawsuit they brought against the city for the death of their daughter in a traffic accident. The suit cites that the city was negligent in failing to replace a stop sign that was stolen, which contributed to the traffic accident that killed their daughter. In addition to the $500,000 approved by the city, the Salazar family also received an insurance settlement of $200,000 and a settlement amount by the manufacturer of the minivan for $157,000.


$350,000 for Auto Accident Caused by Collapsed Culvert

Maureen Bryer from Wilson, New York sued Niagara County for damages after she was injured in an auto accident caused by a collapsed culvert on Wilson Burt Road. Torrential rains had caused a 14-foot-wide culvert to collapse on the road. The culvert struck Bryer as she was driving between 50 and 55 mph. Bryer's lawsuit claimed that the county was negligent in failing to properly maintain the road and culvert, which was 75 years old. When Bryer filed the suit in 2000, she sought $1 million for injuries, but the settlement she agreed upon was for $350,000.


Washington Woman Receives $4 Million for TBI in Car Crash with State Patrol Officer

The Washington State Patrol was socked for a major personal injury settlement of $4 million, payable to Julia Terlinchamp, whose car was struck sidelong by a state trooper in 2004. The accident, which occurred the day after Christmas of that year, left Terlinchamp with traumatic brain injuries that prevented her from being able to talk, think or hear properly. The Seattle Police Department is also cited in the suit for allegedly failing to turn over information to the family concerning the crash. More than half of the $4 million settlement, news reports claim, will go toward paying Terlinchamp's medical bills and paying back friends who helped the family financially before the settlement.


Settlement Awarded from Beer Vendor for Little Girl Injured by DUI

In a lawsuit that follows a similar line of reasoning to the Dram Shop Act, the family of Antonia Verni, of Cliffside Park, New Jersey, received an undisclosed settlement from Aramark, a beer vendor at the Meadowlands stadium that served beer to a New York Giants fan who crashed into the Verni family and left the 2-year-old Antonia paralyzed. Two years ago, a Bergen County jury found that Aramark was liable for serving alcohol to the driver of the pickup that struck the Verni family, Daniel Lorenzo, and awarded the family $105 million. But the verdict was nullified at an appeals court trial. The new undisclosed settlement arises from a new trial of the case, and will pay for making the Verni home handicapped-accessible and hiring nurses to care for Antonia, now 10 years old.


State Patrol Agrees To $4 Million Settlement

A Washington State Trooper plowed his patrol car into Julia Terlinchamp's car, causing her serious injuries. Now, after years of legal negotiations, Terlinchamp's family has finally settled their lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol. The car accident happened the day after Christmas in 2004. When the state trooper's vehicle T-boned Terlinchamp's car she suffered brain injuries that caused her to have to relearn how to listen, think and talk again. She was 22 when the accident happened and completely changed the course of her life. According to the terms of the settlement, the Washington State Patrol will pay Terlinchamp about $4 million. Half of the settlement amount will have to be paid out for medical bills and reimbursement to others who helped her in her recovery.


Family Awarded $50 Million after 2004 Car Accident

A jury in Lakeland, Florida awarded a family $50 million in damages for a car accident that left their son severely brain damaged in 2004. Michael Yow was sentenced to five years in prison for causing the tragic accident which caused the permanent brain injuries that Mario Ladler, II suffered. The victim was four years old at the time of the car accident. His father was also seriously injured in the crash. Lawyers for Yow say that they will appeal the jury's multi-million dollar verdict.


San Dimas Parents Settle Daughter's Brain Injury with City for $9 Million

The city of San Dimas, California reached a $9 million settlement with the family of Samantha Palumbo, a teenager who received permanent injuries in an automobile accident in 2005. Palumbo hit a wooden city-built fence, which came through the car's windshield and pierced part of her brain. As a result of the accident, Palumbo receives 24-hour care from her parents, and must rely on hand signals to communicate with others. Palumbo's parents will use the money, which came from a city insurance fund, to set up a trust to pay for future medical care for their daughter.


Washington Widow Granted $1.8 Million Settlement from City of Algona

The widow of a man who was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident received a settlement offer of $1.8 million from the city of Algona, Washington to end a lawsuit that charged the motorist who killed her husband should have been in prison. Mike McGuire was struck and killed by a woman named Tracy Enoch-Jevne outside a convenience store in December 1999. Enoch-Jevne had four DUI convictions at the time of the accident, and Susan McGuire's lawsuit claims that the King County jail mistakenly released her when she still had two months to serve after being transferred from a Pierce County jail for multiple drunk driving and drug convictions. A King County judge gave Enoch-Jevne credit for time served on an unrelated charge instead and released her shortly before the accident.


Florida Dance Teacher Receives $3.4 Million for Permanent Neck Injuries

A jury in Jacksonville, Florida has awarded $3.4 million to Wendy Sugalski, who suffered permanent neck injuries in a car accident crash with a moving truck. Sugalski has experienced tremendous pain since the crash in 2004, and will require regular treatment for the rest of her life to deaden nerve pain in her neck. A dance teacher, Sugalski has returned to teaching in a limited capacity. A judge determined that Reads Moving Systems was responsible for the crash, and a jury awarded the verdict amount of $3.4 million.


Girl Receives Settlement for Injuries after Party Where Alcohol Served to Minors

A $1.5 million settlement was reached in a car accident lawsuit involving a woman from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Melissa Wolkomir, 16 at the time of the 2004 accident, was injured in a car accident following a party at an equestrian center where alcohol was served to minors. She and three friends were in a car leaving the party when the driver made an illegal turn and struck a tractor-trailer. She was thrown from the car and sustained permanent neurological injuries that restrict use of her left hand and leg. A civil liability act had just taken effect 29 days earlier that holds adults who allow minors to drink responsible for impaired actions. This was the first lawsuit and settlement under the act.


Vermont Young Man Awarded $21 Million for Car Accident Injuries

Ralph Currier, a young man from Vermont, received one of the highest personal injury awards in state history, when he was granted $12 million by a Windsor County jury. While traveling with a friend in a car at speeds over 100 mph, Currier, now 21, was involved in a crash that left him a quadriplegic, confined to a wheelchair and requiring care for virtually every part of his daily life. The suit was brought against the driver's mother for "negligent entrustment" of the car to her daughter. The award included $1 million for past medical care, $15 million for future medical care, $1 million for projected future wages Currier will not earn, and $5 million for pain and suffering. However, due to the high amount, his attorneys aren't sure that Currier will be able to claim the full amount of the award-his actual award will depend on insurance coverage and other factors.


$1.5 Million in Settlement for Family of Car Accident Victim

The family of a woman in Arroyo Grande, California settled with the Cuyama Joint Union School District and Cuyama Valley High School principal Donald Wilson for $1.5 million in connection with their role in her 2006 death. Marie Crook and her husband, James, were driving back from a trip to Laughlin for their 56th wedding anniversary when they were hit head-on by Wilson, who had swerved his car into oncoming traffic for no apparent reason. James Crook received major injuries in the crash, but lived. The $1.5 million includes $100,000 from Wilson's life insurance policy and $1.4 million from an insurance policy held by the school.


Chicago Bears Tackle Dents Bumper, Pays Deductible

Chicago area resident Robert Hubbard was surprised to learn the identity of the man who accidentally rear-ended his car while driving on the Edens Expressway on May 11, 2007; the large, soft-spoken man was Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris. Hubbard and Harris exchanged information while an officer arrived at the scene, and Hubbard was optimistic about getting the dent in his bumper repaired without a problem. But when tried to recover the $900 deductible that he owed his insurance company, he hit a snag. Harris wasn't registered with State Farm, as he had stated. In fact, Harris wasn't registered with any insurance company. After trying to contact Harris and the Bears organization, Hubbard contacted a consumer advocacy column called "What's Your Problem?" at the Chicago Tribune. After the Problem Solver columnist contacted the Bears on Hubbard's behalf, the Bears acted immediately, calling Hubbard and approving a check for the deductible amount on Harris' behalf. After all, it turns out that Harris did have insurance that had kicked in before the crash, though it did not seem so at the time.


$1.75 million settlement for auto accident

A Florida woman recently won a $1.75 million settlement against Rick Starr Lincoln Mercury after one of its employees was accused of striking her minivan. Tiffany Barret was driving north on U.S. in 2006 when a salesman for Rick Starr struck her minivan after making a sudden left turn across the three northbound traffic lanes. Allegedly, the salesman was talking on his cell phone at the time. Barrett suffered from permanently disabling orthopedic and neurological injuries and had three surgeries. The money will pay her medical bills, assist with future therapy and help her purchase a home.


$10.6 million awarded for Ford rollover

A New Jersey Superior Court jury recently awarded $10.6 million to a woman who was injured when the throttle on her 1997 Ford Explorer stuck while she was on her way to work. Rebekah Zakrocki-Parks was injured in 2000 when the gas pedal became unstuck, causing the vehicle to surge forward and roll over, causing her arm to become crushed and partially amputated when it (her arm) was ejected through the sunroof. Zackrocki-Parks' attorneys found that there was a design defect in the throttle of the vehicle that allowed "sludging" to accumulate on the throttle plate inside the mechanism. "Sludging" would cause the plate to stick closed while the vehicle was being driven. Ford Motor Company and Freehold Ford were sued, alleging that the auto maker had prior knowledge of the defect on account of previous customer complaints.


$3.2 million awarded for hit and run injury

A California jury recently awarded $3.2 million to a Redlands woman who was permanently injured in a hit and run crash caused by a nun. Sue Reynolds was driving westbound in 2002 behind Sister Marilu Saltzmann Covani's Honda CRV when the nun veered to the right without signaling. Covani then made a U-turn, clipping the rear of Reynolds' vehicle and deflecting her (Reynolds) into oncoming traffic. Reynolds' Acura collided head-on into a Dodge pickup driven by an off-duty sheriff's deputy. Reynolds lost 85 percent to 90 percent of the use of her right as a result of the crash. Covani left the scene without calling 9-1-1 or rendering aid. The nun had four years of medical schooling but determined she was not at fault in the accident. Police later found Covani at a dentist's office.


$1.175 Million Settlement Involving New Jersey Senator

Pedestrian Barbara Sara suffered fractures in her arm, leg, ankles and a concussion after New Jersey Senator Robert Singer struck her with his vehicle on June 15, 2005. The parties reached a $1.175 million settlement on the day of the scheduled trial for the case. Singer has two other serious accidents he was involved in, including one that resulted in the death of one man. However, investigators found Singer was not at fault for those two accidents because they were unavoidable situations.


$8 million awarded for fiery crash

A Texas jury recently awarded $8 million to the family of a woman who died in a fiery automobile crash with an 18-wheeler in 2005. Ellen Duensing was slammed by the big rig causing her car to be thrown beneath the massive vehicle; she was killed when her car caught fire. The judgment was the result of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her family.


$7 million awarded for drunk driving crash

A Florida jury recently awarded $6.99 million to a man who was severely injured by a drunken driver in an auto crash in 2003. Chadwick Paddock was injured when an inebriated Yuri Jiminez engaged him in a head-on collision. The accident left Paddock with a broken left hip, pelvis and right knee and broken feet. Because Jiminez is an illegal immigrant and is currently serving a 4½ year prison sentence, Paddock nor his wife will likely ever receive the money.


$16 million awarded for limb use loss

A Massachusetts jury recently awarded $16 million to a Boston man who lost the use of his arms and legs after he was hit by a car while crossing a street in 2005. William Dodge was traversing a crosswalk when he was struck by Arda Tezel's Dodge who was allegedly speeding. Dodge fractured his spine, which left him a quadriplegic and in rehabilitation for one year.


$1.2 million awarded for parking garage accident

A Pennsylvania jury recently awarded $1.2 million to a woman who was struck by a vehicle in a parking garage in 1996. Debra Macklo was walking through the parking lot of the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital when she was struck by an out-of-control vehicle driven by Sam Tramontana. She was walking with her 18-month old daughter at the time of the accident. Macklo was pinned against another vehicle and suffered a leg injury with permanent damage.


$31.25 million awarded for Car Crash Disfigurement

A former Cook College student was recently awarded $31.25 million after his car was rear-ended by a tow truck, resulting in a fiery wreck and causing him serious physical disfigurement. Richard Douglas Cannon was driving home when his 1984 Ford Mustang broke down in the middle lane of Route 1. A tow truck driver for E&D Auto Repair was on his way to help another motorist on behalf of AAA when he crashed into the Mustang. Allegedly, the truck driver was distracted by the esoteric onboard AAA computer. The classic car's gas tank exploded into flames, leaving Cannon with third degree burns over 58 percent of his body. The now-merged AAA Central West Jersey and AAA Mid-Atlantic agreed to pay $27.5 million of the settlement while the insurance company for the now defunct tow-truck company settled with the driver for the maximum coverage amount of $2 million. Campana Systems sold the on-board computer to AAA and agreed to pay the remaining $2 million of the settlement that was reached before the jury reached its eventual verdict.


$2.03 million awarded for Wrongful Death Car Crash

An Illinois jury recently awarded $2.03 million to the family of a man who was struck by a Waukegan police squad car and died on Super Bowl Sunday in 2005. Wilson "Alex" Lopez-Ochoa's car was struck by Officer Michael Newman while Newman was speeding in a non-emergency situation, and did not have either the squad's siren or flashing lights turned on. The case was brought before the Lake County Circuit Court jury in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.


Over $230,000 awarded for drunk driving accident

A Florida jury recently awarded $232,866.71 to a Fort Myers woman who was injured in a drunken driving crash in 2004. Donald Ray Clawson was a three-time convicted drunk driver when he blindly rammed his vehicle into Joan Ruch's SUV, injuring Ruch and her daughter Kimberly Carpenter in the process. On account of Clawson's record, the jury added $52,800 to the award for punitive damages; the injury verdict was originally set at $180,067. This verdict came one year after another jury awarded Kimberly Carpenter $1,050,979 for neck injuries she sustained in the same accident.


$400,000 awarded for Car Crash

A Pennsylvania jury recently awarded $400,000 to a woman who was injured after her car was rear-ended by a James Barry in 2000. Following the accident, Kathleen Policare suffered from bulging and herniated discs, severe pain, impaired walking and some cognitive impairment. The plaintiff's attorneys expect another $200,000 to be added on to the verdict for delayed damages.


$9,353 awarded to injured driver

A Texas jury recently awarded $9,353 to a woman who was injured in a motor vehicle collision. LaToya Williams was struck from behind by a U-Haul truck while stopped at a stop sign in 2004. Williams filed a personal injury lawsuit against Travis Hinkston, the U-Haul driver, initially asking for an award of $25,000 in damages. Jurors found Hinkston negligent for the collision. The damages included awards for medical expenses, vehicle damage and physical pain, suffering and mental anguish.


$51,167 awarded to two in automobile injury

A Texas jury recently awarded $51,167 to two victims who were injured in the same automobile in 2005. Michael Choate failed to yield the right of way and struck Carl Skiles and Alicia Weaver while they were riding in their automobile. Skiles was awarded $35,190 while Weaver's total award amounted to $15,977. The jury faulted Choate for negligently failing to maintain a proper lookout and apply his brakes in time.


$975,000 awarded to family of dead highway worker

A Tippecanoe, Indiana jury recently awarded $975,000 to the relatives of a state highway worker who was struck dead by an out-of-control car in 2005. Robert Zell was picking up trash along Interstate 65 when Adam Clawson ran him down with his rampant vehicle. The jury found that Clawson and his employer Sherwin-Williams were 65% responsible for the crash and are thus liable for $975,000 of the total damages of $1.5 million.


$4 Million awarded to SUV Rollover Victim

A Montgomery jury awarded $4 million to a woman who was paralyzed in a rollover accident in 2004. The judgment was entered against Wal-Mart after the jury found that the discount chain's service center had failed to spot a defective tire on the woman's SUV. The tread on one of her tires separated during the accident, allegedly causing the rollover.


$31.8 Million to Pileup Survivors and Families

A federal jury awarded $31.8 million to the survivors of an eleven-car pileup that occurred following a Lousiana bridge accident. The verdict was announced after a three week trial in the lawsuit against Allied Van Lines by a South Texas family injured in the accident. An Allied van driver allegedly crashed his 18-wheeler into a line of traffic stopped on an Interstate bridge. Five people were killed in the accident, including the truck driver. Lisa Guerra and her friend Joe Alfaro received 70 percent of the money as they were severely burned in the mass injury. The remaining money was awarded to other members of the Guerra and Garza families among whom two other deaths were associated with accident.


$15.6 Million Awarded to Man Severely Injured In Car Driven By His Brother

In 2003, brothers Kyle (then 22) and Steven Piper (then 20) were in a car accident in which Steven suffered a severe brain injury. He had to undergo rehabilitation for many months after weeks in intensive care. Now Steven functions only as a preschooler would and requires 24 hour care. The insurance company payout was not enough to cover the expense so the parents sued their other son Kyle, who only suffered minor injuries, only as a last resort. A jury awarded the family $15,602,612, which should cover all future medical expenses.


$90,000 Settlement For Drunk Driving Accident that caused Congolese Drummer's Death

In June 2003, a drunk driver hit and killed Malonga Casquelourd on an Oakland city street. Malonga's family claimed that a street sign near the accident was confusing and led to the accident that killed the famous Congolese drummer and dancer. The insurance company for the drunk driver will pay $50,000 and the city of Oakland will pay $40,000 to the family of Malonga.


$300,000 Car Accident Settlement Reached After Two Years

It was two years ago in April 2005 when Julia Baldari was injured in a car accident involving an SUV. The driver of the SUV went through a stop sign and hit the Jeep in which Julia was a passenger. She suffered neck and back injuries which required surgery. Her attorney helped her obtain $50,000 through the SUV driver's insurance policy and also $250,000 from her own insurance company through the underinsured driver clause.


$200,000 Verdict for Fatal Car Accident Involving a High Speed Chase By Police

Pembroke, North Carolina police were found guilty of causing a fatal car accident which occurred during a high-speed police chase in 2001. What started as minor car accident turned into a high speed police pursuit and ended in a fatal wreck, killing both Christopher Harris-whose family were the plantiffs in this case-and Gabriel McMillan, whose family received a $75,000 settlement in a separate case. Lawyers argued that the police should not have initiated a high-speed chase for a simple fender bender. The officers were suspended for not following proper police procedures.


$700,000 Awarded to Pawtucket Rhode Island Woman for Car Accident

A Pawtucket police car that was driven recklessly and negligently by Officer Ernest Pendergrass hit Carmen Ducharme. She suffered severe internal injuries and received two surgeries. The officer was engaged in a high-speed pursuit but was not following the policy outlined by Rhode Island State Law for such pursuits. The lawsuit filed by Ducharme's attorney contended the city of Pawtucket did not enforce the high-speed chase law. A jury awarded Ducharme $700,000 for her personal injuries resulting from the accident.


$24 Million Verdict For Chevy Tahoe Seatbelt Defect

Honeywell International was ordered to pay $24 million by a Texas jury for a deadly injury caused by a seatbelt defect previously known about by the company. Lauren Frazier's seatbelt failed, she was thrown from her Chevy Tahoe during a rollover accident and died from her injuries. Honeywell apparently knew about the defect since 1989 but failed to address the problem. The personal injury award will go to the18 year-old's family.


$100k for Fatal Car Accident

The family of Wavie Reeves has settled a civil lawsuit against D&S Builders, employer of Theodore Samuel Deboer, 48, who last year reportedly failed to stop at a traffic light, hit Reeves' vehicle and killed Reeves instantly. Reeves' family filed a civil lawsuit against Deboer's employer, claiming it was potentially liable for Deboer being on road that day. A Lenawee County Circuit Judge approved a $100,000 settlement, which will be paid by the employer's insurance company. Deboer was found guilty of negligent homicide in a criminal case against him and was sentenced to a deferred jail term.


$7.5 Million for Wrongful Death of Woman Hit by Car

A Circuit Court jury in Hillsborough County, FL awarded Mac Brown $7.5 million for the death of his wife Brenda, 43, who was killed while pushing the couple's toddler in a stroller. The jury found Town 'N Country Car Wash liable for the 2005 accident in which an employee of the car wash accidentally shifted an Isuzu Rodeo into gear, hit the accelerator instead of the brake and killed Brown.


$2.9 Million for Severe Knee Injuries in Head-On Crash

Ronald Randall has settled with a paving company for $2.9 million after colliding with one of the paving company's trucks, which was parked illegally and pulled out onto the road suddenly, hitting Randall head-on. Randall sustained significant injuries to his knee, which caused him to have eight different surgeries to his patella. Randall, 63, now walks with a cane.


$9 Million for Motor Vehicle Death of 18-Year Old Girl

The family of an 18-year old girl who was killed in a vehicle accident in Bellevue, WA will receive a $9 million settlement from the Washington Transportation Department, the state of Washington, and the vehicle's driver. Marijke Holschen was a passenger in a car driven by Juliann Odom, 24, in 2004. Odom's Ford Explorer veered across three lanes of traffic, broke through a barrier in the median, and slammed into two other vehicles when the car burst into flames. The Washington Transportation Department has agreed to pay $2 million of the $9 million settlement.


$1.26 Million for Leg Injuries in Vehicle Crash

A Boca Raton woman will receive a settlement from insurance carriers for $1.26 million for a vehicle accident in which she fractured her right leg and tore her achilles heel. Sharon Block underwent two surgeries already and long-term effects of injuries have not yet been determined. Allstate insurance, the driver's insurance company, agreed to pay the woman $1.25 million in a settlement, while Geico, Block's insurance carrier, agreed to pay $10,000 to Block under her own policy.


Florida Jury awards $450,000 for Brain Damages in Car Crash

A Manatee County, FL jury awarded $450,000 to the family of a teenager who sustained brain damage in a 2002 traffic accident. Ames and Mary Forbes were reportedly disappointed that the monetary amount awarded was not sufficient to support the past and future needs of their daughter, Brittany, now 19, who reportedly has an IQ of a 12-year old child because of brain injuries. According to the civil complaint, Brittany, then 15, had been the passenger in a car driven by Thomas Robert Bruessow when he lost control of the vehicle and it flipped three times, ending in a retention pond.


Judge Adds $3 Million for Ford Crash Case

Couple Now Gets $18 Million for Death of Son

A federal judge in Oklahoma on January 5 added more than $3 million in pre-judgment interest to a $15 million jury against Ford Motor Co. A jury verdict had awarded the original sum to Tulsa jeweler Kevin Moody and wife Veronica Moody whose son Tyler was killed in a 2003 Ford Explorer crash. The vehicle was ruled to have had a defective roof-crush tolerance.


$11 Million for Loss of Leg

An Indiana court of appeal upheld an $11 million verdict for a woman who lost her leg in a vehicle accident in 2002. Diana and Robert Goad of Leroy, IN won a lawsuit last year against Timothy Clancy of Hebron. Clancy's pickup truck allegedly swerved and hit the couple, who were riding a motorcycle at the time. Court testimony showed that Clancy had fallen asleep while driving. The appeals court found that the jury award for damages were reasonable in light of evidence presented at the trial.


Rockland hit-and-run victim's family wins $1 million lawsuit

A New York Supreme Court jury in Rockland County has awarded $1 million to the family of a Pearl River, NY woman killed in a 2004 hit-and-run accident. Stacey Gersten was walking on a sidewalk when she was struck by Duane Boos of Nanuet, who did not stop after the accident, nor did he call police. The jury found that Rockland County and Boos were responsible for her injuries, coma, and ultimate death.


Salvation Army to Pay $20k of $200k Verdict for Crippling a Great-Grandmother

Charity invokes Non-Profit Immunity from Verdict

A Suffolk Superior Court Judge has agreed to allow the Salvation Army to pay just 10% of a $200,000 judgment for crippling injuries caused to 88-year old Alice Shaw, who had to sell her home of 50 years and had to be subsequently put into an assisted living complex. Massachusetts Legislature caps liability for charitable organizations at $20,000. An employee of the Salvation Army, Ina Kellan, 43, drew the short end of the stick when Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Billings recently decided that Kellan, as driver of the van in the accident that caused the injuries, was responsible for the $180k that the Salvation Army would not be paying.


Woman Gets Nearly $1 Million for Injuries in High Speed Police Chase

A Superior Court jury in Washington, D.C. has ordered the D.C. government to pay $945,118 to a woman who lost three fingers and part of her left hand in 2003 when a car being chased by police crashed into her. Valentina Chambers of Southwest Washington sued the city for $100 million, claiming that a high speed car chase was negligently conducted in a residential neighborhood, against police policy.

Chambers was returning home from work when a car that was being pursued by police crashed into her. The suspect was being chased because it had expired plates. D.C. police rules state that officers should engage in chases only if they believe that a suspect has committed a violent felony or the pursuit might prevent harm to others. The jury sided with Chambers, ruling that the officer was not on an "emergency run" at the time of the accident; that the District, through the officer, was negligent; and that negligence was a factor in the accident.


State Trooper Gets $1.25 Milion for fall off running board

A Westmoreland County, PA jury has awarded $1.25 million to a Pennsylvania State Police trooper for falling off a running board in 2001 that had been installed on his pickup truck. John Tamewitz of Irwin, PA claimed that he suffered severe back injuries after he fell of the running board of his truck while trying to enter the truck. Tamewitz had alleged that the running board had been improperly installed at Eastern Off Road repair shop, owned by Smeal Enterprises in Greensburg, PA. and contended that the fall severely aggravated a pre-existing back injury.


$325,000 to Mother of Teen Killed by Two Drunk Drivers

A District Court in Yellowstone County, MT awarded Joy Mathis, mother of Melissa Ray, $325,000 for the wrongful death of her daughter. Ray was a passenger in a car being driven by Michael Marsac in 2003 when it hit a pickup truck driven by Ryan Lindstadt. Both drivers had been drinking before the accident occurred.


$800,000 jury verdict in auto accident

The son of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan was ordered to pay $800,000 in damages to a woman injured in a car accident that he caused. Nasir Farrakhan claimed responsibility for the accident, but claimed that the woman's injuries existed before the crash occurred. The sum accounts for both medical and punitive damages.



$17 million award in car accident case

Michael Boyle, of Pennsylvania, won a jury award of $17 million after he was injured in an accident with a flatbed truck. Boyle's car collided with the truck while he was commuting to work. He was injured badly when his Ford Taurus went up and under the truck's rear end.


$18,000 settlement in police car accident

The State of Nevada agreed to settle with a Las Vegas woman whose car was hit by a Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper who failed to clear an intersection before running a red light. Doris Barrett suffered back, shoulder, and knee injuries in the accident, for which the State took responsibility.


$98,000 award in police-related car accident

An Indiana woman received a jury award of $98,000 after she was struck by a police officer attempting to drive through a red light. Lyndsey Englert's leg was broken after Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Tenbarge activated his lights and sirens and attempted to move through an intersection. Englert did not see the police car, and Tenbarge was unable to see Englert's vehicle when the accident occurred. Tenbarge was later reprimanded for activating his lights and sirens in a non-emergency situation.


$24.4 million jury verdict after car accident

Yolanda Barhona, acting on behalf of Alex Barhona, who is a minor, received a $24.4 million award after Alex was injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler truck. The jury determined Levinge Transportation and truck driver Jerrold Young liable for Alex's injuries, which include ventilator dependence and quadriplegia.


$3 million award in car accident case

A New Jersey man received a $3 million award from a jury for injuries that he sustained in a car accident. Allen Williams lost part of a finger and suffered head and face injuries when another car cut him off. The jury determined that State Farm, Williams' insurance company, was liable for the damages under his policy.


$15 million award in car accident case

A South Carolina woman paralyzed in a car accident received a $15 million award from a jury. The jury decided that Ford Motor Co. had installed a defective speed-control system that led to a wreck on an interstate. Another woman was killed in the accident, and her estate was separately awarded $3 million.


$700,000 award in car accident injury case

A jury awarded over $700,000 to a Kentucky woman injured in a car accident in 2002. Marcia Ashley was hit in the bumper by another motorist. She complained of chronic headaches and neck pain following the accident. While Ashley, a surgical technician, settled with the other motorist's insurance company, she later sued her own insurance company for underinsured motorist coverage. The jury's award was based on future medical expenses, lost income, permanent impairment of power to earn money, and for present and future mental and physical suffering.


$1.8 million settlement after car crash

The family of Patsy Sizemore of Charleston, S.C. received a $1.8 million settlement from the Charleston City Council. Sizemore was killed in a car accident in which a city police officer collided with her car. The officer was driving without his lights and sirens activated. One addition to the settlement included the enforcement of a mandatory driver-safety course for the city's officers.


$15 million award in police car accident case

A jury awarded a California woman $15 million for injuries that she suffered after a collision with a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department vehicle in 2001. After two days of deliberation, the jury determined that the county was liable for the sum. The County did not dispute its liability, but disagreed with the amount of money involved and made several settlement offers. Amanda Marroquin, the woman injured when a County SUV made a U-turn across multiple lanes of traffic, will face surgeries for the rest of her life, according to her attorney.


$3.2 million award for car wreck

The daughter of a couple killed in a car accident received a $3.2 million judgment from a jury. Frederick L. Culp collided with Clinton and Sophie Anderson while driving between 60 and 67 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone. The jury cited punitive damages, pain and emotional suffering, and economic loss in its award. Culp has pleaded guilty to his related charge for criminally negligent homicide.


$289,000 award for motor vehicle accident

A jury awarded a New York bus driver $289,000 after she was hurt when a motorist lost control of his car and broad-sided her parked bus. The force of the accident threw Linda Edwards against a pole inside the bus and onto the floor. The award was for personal injuries, medical bills, and lost wages.


$28.2 million award for drunk driving car accident

A jury awarded $28.2 million to the family of a man killed in a drunk driving accident. Edward Souza died when he was struck by a drunk driver. The jury determined that the driver, whose blood alcohol level was about twice the legal limit, was liable for the death as well as the serious injury of Souza's wife. Souza and his wife were entering their car in front of their San Antonio home when the accident occurred.


$3.1 million car accident settlement

A Staten Island letter carrier received $3.1 million in a settlement after he sustained serious injuries in a wreck with an SUV. Steven Watson was parked by the side of the road, sorting mail, when he was rear ended by an oncoming SUV. Watson underwent numerous back surgeries as a result, and will need more in the future. The case was settled prior to opening statements in court.


$2.6 million award for car crash victim

Kurstie Sur was hurt in a two-car crash several years ago, and a Stockton, California jury awarded her $2.6 million for her injuries. The driver of the second vehicle, who was traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the collision, rammed the driver's side of Sur's car, causing her injuries that would require future surgeries and forced her to go onto disability. The culpable driver was moving at a high rate of speed with the collision occurred.


$910,000 awarded for collision with police vehicle

After suffering injuries from a car crash, James Peterson was awarded $910,000 by a Connecticut jury. Peterson was hurt when a police car, with lights and sirens activated, collided with the driver's side of his car at an intersection. The jury found that the police officer driving the car was liable for the crash and the injuries that Peterson sustained.


$26.8 million awarded for injuries sustained in collision with police car

Megan Petraski was awarded $26.8 million for injuries that left her a quadriplegic after a Cook County Sheriff's squad car slammed into her vehicle. The Sheriff's deputy had sped through a red light while responding to a non-emergency call. Petraski's passenger, Delia Grimmett, was killed in the collision. Grimmett's family will receive an additional $5.75 million settlement.


$10 million awarded to family of child injured in car crash

A Charlotte jury awarded $10 million to the family of Nicolas Mora, an 11-year-old boy confined to a wheelchair since a November, 2004 automobile accident. Mora, who remained in a coma for months following the accident, requires round-the-clock care and has already incurred medical bills in excess of $525,000.


$1.75 settlement for couple injured at "dangerous curve"

A Palmdale couple who sustained serious injuries at a dangerous curve on a county road will receive a settlement of $1.75 million. Rouvenie Robianes sustained a cervical spine fracture and broken legs, and her husband Rodel suffered chest injuries and required open-heart surgery.