$1,650,000 Settlement Awarded to Nurse and Her Daughter Injured in Suffolk County Auto Accident
DATE OF SETTLEMENT
July 24, 2006
COURT AND COUNTY
Supreme Court, Suffolk County
AGE AND OCCUPATION OF PLAINTIFF
At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was a 55-year-old registered nurse.
DESCRIPTION OF CASE
At about 8:25 p.m. on June 20, 2002, Plaintiff was driving in Coram in Suffolk County. Plaintiff’s daughter, Coplaintiff, was a passenger in the car that Plaintiff was driving. As the car entered the intersection of Grand Smith and Middle County roads, it collided with a vehicle that was being driven by Defendant, who was executing a left turn through the intersection. Plaintiff sustained knee, neck, and wrist injuries, while Coplaintiff sustained neck injuries from the crash.
Plaintiff, who was acting individually and as Coplaintiff’s parent and natural guardian, sued Defendant driver and the owner of Defendant driver’s car, Toyota Motor Credit Corp. The Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant driver was negligent in his operation of his vehicle and that Toyota Motor Credit was vicariously liable for Defendant’s actions.
Prior to the trial, Defendants agreed to a $15,000 settlement that addressed Coplaintiff’s pain and suffering.
Plaintiff claimed that the collision occurred because Defendant driver had executed a sudden turn. She contended that Defendant driver had not activated his vehicle’s directional signal.
Defendant driver contended that the collision occurred because Plaintiff had not activated her vehicle’s headlights, but Plaintiff claimed that her vehicle’s headlights were activated.
Plaintiff was placed in an ambulance and transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, in Port Jefferson. She underwent minor treatment.
Plaintiff ultimately sustained a right fracture of her right, dominant, wrist and tears of her right knee’s meniscus. She contended that the tears produced fragments of the knee’s cartilage and she also suffered a painful neck injury. Her right wrist was placed in a cast, but the fractured bone did not achieve union. Thus, Plaintiff had to undergo open reduction and internal fixation of the wrist.
On Oct. 2, 2002, Plaintiff underwent arthroscopic surgery that addressed her right knee. Two years after the accident, her neck pain was addressed via surgery that included a discectomy, which is the excision of an intervertebral disc, and fusion of the accompanying area of the spine.
Plaintiff claimed that she suffers residual reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which is a chronic neurological condition that is characterized by severe burning, pathological changes of bones and/or skin, excessive sweating, swollen tissue and an increased sensitivity to touch.
During the two months that preceded the accident, Plaintiff performed full-time work. During the three years that followed the accident, she performed sporadic work. She sought recovery of about $78,000 for her past medical expenses and unspecified damages for her future medical expenses, her past and future lost wages, and her past and future pain and suffering.
Plaintiff claimed that Coplaintiff suffered a bulge of a cervical disc. She sought recovery of damages for Coplaintiff’s pain and suffering. She also presented a derivative claim.
Defense counsel contended that Plaintiff neck surgery was not causally related to the accident and that she did not suffer reflex sympathetic dystrophy. He contended that the latter condition’s diagnosis was not based on diagnostic studies and that the condition was not marked by typical symptoms, such as changes of the skin’s temperature or hair-growing production.
Defense counsel further contended that Plaintiff’s medical history included longstanding problems and that her medical records implied that her symptomology was greatly influenced by suggestion. Plaintiff conceded that she suffered a variety of disabilities that surfaced during the 20 years that preceded the accident. She acknowledged that those disabilities included a gastrointestinal disorder that necessitated surgery, neck pain, drooping and numbness of her face, and sarcoidosis. Plaintiff also acknowledged that she suffered one year of temporary blindness that affected one of her eyes and an 18-month-long gait impairment that necessitated her use of a walker. The latter two conditions’ causes were never determined.
The parties agreed to a $1,650,000 pretrial settlement.
The defendant’s primary insurer agreed to contribute $285,000 from its $300,000 policy, and their excess carrier agreed to contribute $1,365,000 from its $2 million policy.
This matter was handled by Daniel P. O’Toole, Esq.