Teacher Recovers $11.9M from Accident Involving Loose Tractor Trailer Load

December 7, 2016 by personalinjuryatty.com

In September 2010, a teacher was driving her car when a three foot long, ten pound corner iron securing a load of empty crates from a tractor-trailer came off, flew through the air, crashed through her windshield and struck her in the head. She sustained an open comminuted right frontal skull fracture with brain tissue oozing out of her skull. She initially scored very low on the Glasgow coma scale, meaning that she was near death.

According to the Medical Dictionary.com, a comminuted fracture is one in which the bone has been splintered or crushed. An open fracture indicates that the skin was opened into a wound. The Glasgow Coma Scale is a quick, practical system for assessing the degree of consciousness in the critically ill. It also predicts the duration and ultimate outcome of coma, primarily in patients with head injuries. The system involves eye opening, verbal response, and motor response, all of which are evaluated independently according to a rank order that indicates the level of consciousness and degree of dysfunction.

The teacher underwent emergency neurosurgery, and although she can walk and talk normally, she will permanently suffer difficulties with concentration and memory. She also now has a seizure disorder that cannot be controlled with medication. This disorder prevents her from obtaining a driver’s license. She also suffered a very significant and permanent personality change and is now subject to frequent anger outbursts requiring her to be supervised, making her permanently unemployable.

While the owner of the truck stipulated liability on the second day of the trial, they argued that that it is likely that the teacher’s seizures can be controlled with medication, and that she will probably be able to get her driver’s license back. The owner of the truck also maintained that the teacher will probably be able to work in a different capacity, such as a bookkeeper.

The truck owner showed a surveillance video in court with the teacher, who does not have a license, driving and running errands on two occasions. The teacher maintained that this evidence actually supported her statement that she needs a driver and someone to watch her.

She also argued that the jury should consider that although the plaintiff was kept under surveillance for some 227 hours, only 17 minutes of video was produced.

The highly traumatic nature of the accident when the iron flew through the air, crashed through the teacher’s windshield and penetrated the right side of her skull must have evoked a strong jury response. The description of the manner in which brain tissue was oozing out of her skull surely heightened this reaction.

The jury awarded $11,867,656 including $178,911 for past medical expenses, $2,450,782 for future medical expenses, $62,725 for past lost earnings, $2,084,238 for future non-economic loss and $350,000 to the husband.

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