Every car accident is unpleasant and when someone is injured, it’s an experience that can be life-altering but when the accident leaves a newborn, who hasn’t even had a chance to experience life seriously damaged, a true tragedy has occurred.
Fatigued Driver Causes Massive Wreck
On a day like any other day, a mother was in driving her sedan with her two sons, including a two-week old. Both sons were properly strapped into car seats.
The path to her destination meant that she needed to make a left-hand turn. In order to stay safe and not pull in front of oncoming traffic from the other direction, she slowed down and put on her turn signal as she was supposed to do. Unfortunately, the driver behind her didn’t slow down.
A man who was driving a pickup truck while on the job rear-ended the sedan going 57 miles an hour. The impact then sent the sedan spinning into the oncoming traffic the mother had safely been avoiding and slammed into a van.
Although all three survived the crash, they sustained injuries. The mother was diagnosed with a compound fracture in her left arm and had to undergo open reduction internal fixation surgery. Her older son sustained lacerations to his neck. However, the worst injuries were sustained by the newborn.
The baby, who was rushed to the closest hospital with his family, sustained a skull fracture, an extensive subarachnoid hemorrhage, a subdural hematoma, and a condition called communicating hydrocephalus which means there was increased fluid in the ventricles of the brain. Despite his doctor’s best efforts, the damage cause one-half of his brain in one hemisphere to die and one-third of his brain the opposite hemisphere to die.
By age two, he was still unable to crawl, walk, or speak. His neurologist has informed his parents that he will unlikely ever be able to live independently and has severe developmental disabilities. A life planning expert estimated that over his lifetime, it will cost approximately $9.33 million to provide him with the care he will need.
Although they recognize that nothing can change the past and make their child whole again, the family sued the driver of the truck as well as the company he worked for.
In the lawsuit they filed, they alleged that the driver failed to keep a safe lookout, was speeding, failed to brake in order to avoid the collision, and also failed to maintain a safe traveling distance. They also alleged that the company was negligent in hiring the driver.
The plaintiff’s legal team compiled extensive evidence, including proof that the mother had applied the brakes and come to a full twelve seconds prior to being struck by the truck but that the other driver had not once applied pressure to his brakes.
In addition to this, they discovered that he had given different parties different stories as to what happened in the moments before the accident, but the most likely scenario was that he had fallen asleep behind the wheel which is what he told his girlfriend at the time. They further made the point that this was likely the case by showing that he had been working long hour days in irregular patterns in the days leading up to the accident.
When it came to the company’s negligence, the plaintiff provided records which showed that even though the driver was properly licensed at the time of the accident, at one point it had been suspended because he failed to pass a breathalyzer test.
The complaint didn’t simply claim physical pain and suffering, it also alleged that the mother had sustained serious emotional trauma because she had to witness her baby’s suffering.
In the end, the plaintiffs obtained $27.5 million dollars in compensation for their losses.
Are Multi-Million Dollar Awards Common?
This is a complicated question. The amount that is awarded in each case depends on the losses that were sustained by the plaintiff. So if the plaintiff only sustained a $20,000 loss, it’s unlikely that they will be awarded $20 million.
Can I Really Obtain Compensation For Emotional Trauma?
Yes. It is absolutely possible to recover monetary compensation for emotional trauma sustained. Although emotional trauma can be treated over time, much like physical injuries the process and medications involved can be expensive and until a patient is feeling better, conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD can prevent them from enjoying everyday life.