Auto Accident, Million Dollars, St. Charles

 

ST. CHARLES COUNTY

Settled 2010

VEHICULAR COLLISION

CLIENT (22 YEAR OLD FEMALE) vs. DEFENDANT (22 YEAR OLD MALE)

Cause number and case confidential at request of defendant’s insurer

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Robert H. Pedroli, Jr.

 

Type of Claim: Single vehicle accident, driver drove off the road causing the passenger side door to strike a tree on private property. The passenger’s right (non-dominant) arm was severely injured. Although there were no alcohol related charges brought, there was evidence that the driver had been drinking and was impaired at the time of the collision.  He left on foot and did not interview with the police until the next day.

Defendant disputed the nature and extent of plaintiff’s alleged injuries. Defendant originally urged comparative fault and other factors.

Damages/Injuries Alleged: Plaintiff sustained a complete disruption of the ulnar nerve and a substantial disruption of the median nerve in the right arm alone with and Gustilo classification open grade 3 C fracture of the humorous. Plaintiff was treated at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center and transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for peripheral nerve surgery. She also underwent additional debridements and a late tendon transfer surgery in her hand for improved use of her fingers. The surgeon testified that her recovery was amazing and outstanding in that she retained about 50% or more of the use of her hand.   She does have significant scarring and this is permanent. Her medical expenses were $181,000.00 and there are no further medical expenses or treatment is necessary. Lost wages were minimal as plaintiff was still a student, and subsequently graduated from a university. She is employable in her field, but she will have permanent limitations regarding heavy labor type activities.

Plaintiffs Experts: Dr. Susan MacKinnion, M.D., peripheral nerve surgeon, by video deposition; Dr. Jesse Susi, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, by video deposition; Dr. Thomas Tung, plastic surgeon, deposition canceled at the time of settlement; Dr. Leesa M. Galatz, M.D., deposition canceled at the time of settlement.

 

SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS: Defendant’s insurer offered $400,000.00 at mediation in early 2009. Defendant offered $750,000.00 late in 2009. Trial was scheduled for the last week of September, 2010, and the case settled for $1,150,000.00 within 10 days of Plaintiff’s deadline for accepting settlement within policy limits, which deadline was at the end of July, 2010. This amount was the amount that plaintiff indicated she would accept and would not drop below,  since shortly after the mediation and before $750,000.00 was offered. There was a pending claim for punitive damages relating to drinking and driving.  Such a claim is not covered by insurance and this put pressure on the insurer to fairly and reasonably settle the case in order to fulfill its fiduciary duty to its insured, the driver.  The insurer’s failure to act reasonably to settle within policy limits may have exposed the insurer to a bad faith refusal to settle type of claim if this case went against the driver and a punitive damage judgment was entered against the driver.  Further litigation against the insurer would have likely ensued if any of the award was not covered by insurance.

SETTLEMENT: $1,150,000.00 and the insurer paid plaintiff’s court costs which were in excess of $5,000.00 in exchange for a confidential release. The parties are confidential, as well as the insurer. It was agreed that this particular information could be release on this web site, but the settlement parties could not be otherwise reported to any media outlets.

COMMENTS: We are very satisfied with this settlement in St. Charles County, as this county is considered one of the most conservative jurisdictions in the State of Missouri for awarding money in personal injury cases. We stuck to our negotiating position and our client was very patient throughout the process. The insurer finally fairly settled the case after years of litigation and on the eve of trial.  Our use of the Hammer Letter with Deadlines against the insurer was instrumental in obtaining a favorable result.