Almost eight years after a devastating and life-altering bus accident, an injured victim was awarded a verdict of $28 million as compensation for her permanent injuries. The victim was just 16 years old when her life changed forever. She and two of her friends were traveling in a car in Coleraine, Minnesota when a school bus T-boned their vehicle, dragging the victim and her friends nearly 100 yards before stopping. The bus was operated by Jay Poshak, an employee of the Ely School District at the time of the accident.
The crash rendered the victim quadriplegic and killed the other passenger. Following trial, the Itasca County, Minnesota, jury returned a verdict of over $28 million in favor of the quadriplegic victim. Fault was apportioned between two drivers: the school bus driver was found to be 10% responsible while the rest of the fault was placed on the victim’s driver, who was just a teenager. Following the bus accident, the State Patrol reconstructed the accident and found that both drivers did not pay enough attention to the road.
According to reports, the large jury verdict is rare for the greater Minnesota area, which is a typically conservative location and not known for handing down big verdicts. However, in this case, the award reflects the damages. The victim was only 16 years old when she lost the use of her arms and legs. The $28 million is meant to compensate for past and future medical expenses, past and future pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, emotional distress, and loss of potential earnings.
One reason why the award in this case is so high is because of past and future pain and suffering. There is no formula for arriving at a dollar amount for pain and suffering. The reason is obvious: every case is different, including the parties involved, level of injuries, and how the accident affects the victim’s life. The jury must consider the nature of the injury, the certainty of pain, and the longevity of the disability. Permanent injuries can include visible scarring, amputation, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord damage that requires use of a wheelchair to get around. Emotional testimony from victims and their families often strikes a chord with sympathetic jurors in assigning dollar amounts to these types of damages.
Further, the fact that the victim was only 16 years old when the accident occurred likely factored heavily into the jury’s decision. The victim will have to spend the remainder of her life undergoing extensive medical treatment, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Additionally, becoming quadriplegic at 16 means that the victim’s earning capacity can decrease drastically. Her future employment options will most likely be limited due to her permanent injury. Loss of future earnings can be documented through a vocational economist and reduced to present value.
In Tennessee, accidents caused by teen drivers present unique legal challenges, including inattentiveness to surroundings and whether the teen had permission to drive the car. Depending on the facts of the case, victims who suffer permanent disabilities are able to recover for economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages in Tennessee include medical bills, lost wages, and diminished future earning capacity. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and disfigurement. A knowledgeable truck accident attorney can create a strategy to effectively trigger jurors’ sympathy in order to receive sufficient awards for mental anguish, pain and suffering, and disfigurement. If you have been injured in a car or truck accident and rendered permanently disabled, call the lawyers at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-529-4004.