In a shocking outcome, a former Cornell student was awarded one of the largest verdicts ever granted to a car accident victim.
A Life Changed In A Matter Of Seconds
On August 20th, 2012, when she was just 19-years-old, the plaintiff who is from Brooklyn was a passenger in a car with another Cornell student. They were on Route 79, heading back to Cornell when the male student driving the car fell asleep behind the wheel.
Before he woke up, the Chevy Equinox they were traveling in drifted across the yellow lines and right into oncoming traffic where they collided head-on with another vehicle, a Chrysler minivan.
The damage was catastrophic. Of the three passengers in the other vehicle, the 59-year-old driver and her son survived and were hospitalized with severe but non-life-threatening injuries. However, a 94-year-old woman who was also a passenger was not so lucky. She was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The at-fault driver of the Equinox simply sustained cuts on his legs and bruises. The plaintiff was not as fortunate. She was airlifted to the hospital where doctors determined that she had fractured vertebrae and a spinal cord injury.
Although she is able to walk again with the assistance of leg braces, she has no feeling in the lower part of her legs and even five years after the accident she is still undergoing physical therapy and emotional therapy. Her doctors have informed her that she will one day be completely confined to a wheelchair and that she will need extensive care for the rest of her life. She also experiences constant pain and is constantly navigating the world of pain management.
As if this wasn’t enough pain for one person to deal with, she was unable to continue her career at Cornell due to her physical inability to navigate the campus which is full of hills.
Prior to the accident, the plaintiff was a runner and skier, activities which she loved but is no longer able to enjoy due to her injuries.
Her Allegations & Award
She filed a car accident lawsuit against her classmate, alleging that he was negligent because he fell asleep behind the wheel. After a three week trial, the jury awarded her a total of $71 million. The jury determined that $5 million would be for past pain and suffering, $6 million for future pain and suffering, and $60 million is to cover her future medical care needs.
How Much Are Car Accident Lawsuits Worth?
Not all car accident lawsuits end with such a large award but that is because the losses sustained in each case are very different. In this case, the plaintiff is a now 24-year-old woman who will need extensive medical care for the rest of her life which is why the award is so substantial.
Until a case has been fully reviewed and experts consulted, it is nearly impossible for an estimate to be given to the victim of a car accident.
Whatever the ultimate award, the reality is that it is incredibly difficult to obtain any sort of compensation without the assistance of an attorney who is familiar with the intricate details involving car accident laws.
How Long Does A Lawsuit Take?
There are many factors which will contribute to the amount of time it will take for a lawsuit to conclude, however, most take at least several months and often go on longer than a year. But this should never deter a victim from seeking the compensation they need because it is unlikely that they will be able to obtain it anywhere else.
Insurance companies will help a bit, however, all insurance policies have limits and once those limits have been reached, the payments stop. This is why so many car accident victims turn to lawyers to help them get the full compensation that they deserve.