On December 12, 2010, then 56-year-old Everett Jerome Gardner was heading south on NC Highway 77 near Hamlet, North Carolina to visit his family for the Christmas holiday. What happened next would tragically change his life forever.
The driver of a tractor trailer traveling in the opposite direction down the two-lane highway failed to pay attention to his driving and turned left across the center line, colliding head-on with Mr. Gardner's much smaller Nissan Sentra. Mr. Gardner was air-lifted by helicopter to UNC Hospitals where he spent nearly two months. He was burdened with more than $200,000 in medical bills from his numerous surgeries, hospital stays, and rehabilitation care. He suffered almost a dozen broken bones and most of the use of his dominant left arm. Mr. Gardner had worked as a construction equipment operator since his 16th birthday, and as a result of his injuries from the collision will never again be able to work in the job he loved. Mr. Gardner's mother and his two young sons were by his side throughout his hospitalization, and helped him through the everyday pain and sadness he suffered in the months and years after the wreck.
After the truck driver and his insurance company refused to settle the case and even denied all responsibility until the Thursday before trial, Mr. Gardner asked a jury to decide his future. A week-long trial resulted in a $3.35 million verdict against the truck driver and the trucking company responsible for the driver.