Who doesn’t love to roll down the windows while driving on a nice to enjoy some of the fresh air and warm weather? Most drivers don’t think twice before putting their left arm out of the window as they drive, actually feeling the breeze. What they don’t expect is that in a matter of seconds, another driver could cause an accident that will change their ability to use their fingers, hand, and arm forever.
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Everyone understands that there are lines painted on the road for a reason - drivers are supposed to stay in their own lanes. Yet every day, thousands of accidents happen across the country because people don't stay in their own lane. While some of these accidents simply result in damage to the car and all occupants are able to walk away unharmed, the majority cause at least one injury.
A single mother of three children joined the ranks of thousands who have had their lives changed forever when another driver’s inattention caused a terrible accident.
On the day of the accident, the 29-year-old woman was driving her Mazda minivan when a Jeep traveling in the opposite direction unexpectedly crossed over the center lines and struck her vehicle.
The impact shattered her side window and caused extensive damage down the side of the minivan. But all of that was trivial compared to the damage done to her left hand which had also been hit by the Jeep.
When emergency crews arrived they were horrified by the gruesome injury and she was rushed to the hospital where doctors found that she had a degloving injury that removed most of her skin, tendons, nerves, and muscles, in addition to numerous fractures. They rushed her into surgery and were shockingly able to save her arm, although she did lose her middle finger. Since the accident, she has had numerous surgeries to repair the broken bones and apply skin grafts from her thigh in reconstructive surgery. Despite all of their hard work, she has limited use of her thumb and three remaining fingers, not to mention severe scarring, disfigurement, and pain.
Her doctors have also diagnosed her with PTSD which causes her anxiety and nightmares on a regular basis.
Due to her need for surgery, she was unable to return to work for three months and even when she did, her range of motion is limited but she felt as though she needed to in order to support her family.
The other driver’s insurance company refused to pay the policy limits of $100,000 because they believed it wasn’t the driver’s fault, that instead of the company who had put a steering linkage in just eight days prior was at fault.
In order to obtain the compensation she needed to pay for her medical bills which totaled just under $400,000, the victim filed a lawsuit against the other driver and his insurance company, alleging that it was his negligence resulted in the accident. She had her legal team approach the defendants with a $1 million offer to settle but they refused and the case went to trial.
During the trial, the plaintiff’s surgeon testified that her injury was the most traumatic that he had ever seen in his career and that it was a 10 out of 10 when discussing severity. In fact, the pictures of the injury were considered so gruesome that the jurors weren’t forced to look at the pictures and instead they had the choice to view them if they wanted in the jury room. In addition to this, an expert testified that the loss of steering the defendant described with inconsistent with a steering linkage failure and that the steering linkage likely broke upon impact.
Ultimately, the jury determined that the other driver with 100% to blame for the accident and awarded the plaintiff $30.69 million for her losses.
If safety experts had determined that the steering linkage had indeed failed, the plaintiff could have still pursued a lawsuit, however, the defendant likely would have either been the company who installed the linkage or the product’s manufacturer.
Product liability laws keep consumers safe because they hold the designers, manufacturers, and people who may be installing a product responsible if the product fails due to their negligence.
No, not every plaintiff obtains millions - but they typically do get what they need to move on in life. Generally, any award given is supposed to be sure the plaintiff can cover their past expenses as well as handle any future losses that might occur due to the accident and their injuries.
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