Forest Horne and Hunt Willis obtained a settlement of $1,750,000 in a case involving a collision at a rural intersection in Harnett County. A Chatham County man was traveling west on a rural portion of Highway 27 when another motorist ran a stop sign and collided at high speed with his driver’s side door. The impact from the collision was so severe that the driver of the other vehicle tragically died from her injuries. Our client suffered life-threatening internal organ injuries (spleen and liver) and was airlifted to WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh were he would undergo two abdominal surgeries to remove his spleen and repair internal injuries. He spent three weeks in the intensive care and three weeks in-patient rehabilitation, and later months of out-patient rehabilitation recovering from his injuries.
After an opening settlement offer of approximately $500,000, which we did not respond to, our client filed suit in Chatham County Superior Court (client’s resident county) against the estate of the deceased motorist for the injuries and damages he suffered in the collision.
Our client suffered numerous acute traumatic injuries including rib and non-displaced spinal fractures, internal organ damage and a head injury. His recovery (and his claim) were complicated by the fact that he had pre-existing multiple sclerosis, which had impacted his ability to walk without assistance before the collision. Remarkably, plaintiff made an excellent recovery and was again able to walk again but required assistance from a walker instead of a cane.
The case was defended on contributory negligence and pre-existing conditions.
Hunt Willis explained, “The defense argued that the plaintiff should have seen the decedent’s vehicle approaching the intersection and should have slowed or made some maneuver to avoid the collision.” Willis continued, “But several months after having issued subpoenas for the decedent’s cell phone records, we learned that the decedent was likely on her cell phone at the time of the collision.” Hunt noted, “Those developments essentially led the defense to rescind the contributory negligence allegations. Nevertheless, we certainly had concerns considering our case was against a widower who was serving as the administrator of his deceased wife’s estate, and these were fine people.”
Horne stated that “The defense vigorously contested our client’s damages claim of long-term permanent injuries, claiming that our client had pre-existing multiple sclerosis which made certain post-collision symptoms — mainly the ability to walk unassisted — difficult to separate from his prior MS symptoms.” Horne continued, “We were able to obtain cooperation from our clients rehabilitation physician, neurologist, and family doctor, as well as family and friends. That along with photographic evidence allowed us to present a compelling before and after picture of our client’s condition; notwithstanding his excellent recovery.” Horne stated, “A visit to our client’s rural home made clear the impact his injuries had on him. Before the wreck he lived in his rural farm home, after the wreck, he had to convert his garage/workshop to a studio where he primarily lived and slept, because he could no longer make it up the stairs to his bedroom. That may have been the most compelling part of the mediation.”