There are unfortunate times in our lives when we suffer the greatest amount of loss. Even after a wrongful death settlement, there are immense feelings of grief and pain. This is one of those times.
In April of 2015, our client’s father was riding as a passenger in a truck on the way back from Lexington, Virginia to his home in Appomattox, Virginia. He had been at a horse show all day and was recognized throughout Virginia as an expert in his trade.
As he approached Route 130, in Rockbridge County, Virginia another driver coming from the opposite direction turned left in front of our client crossing into the southbound lane and directly in front of our client’s truck causing a violent impact. The impact caused two fatalities, including our client. It also caused serious injury to two other people and also to the defendant.
The defendant was charged with violating Code § 46.2-825 which requires the driver of a vehicle intending to turn left within an intersection to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction if it is so close as to constitute a hazard. By violating this code section, the defendant caused the accident that ultimately took our client’s life. This is what made the wrongful death settlement and option for our client.
After the wreck, our client was taken to Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington for examination and treatment. He was initially diagnosed with several fractures, a concussion, and a scalp abrasion. After he was transferred from Stonewall Jackson Hospital to Roanoke Memorial Hospital, our client was evaluated and transferred to ICU for level three trauma care.
There was initial concern for compartment syndrome in his left leg given the intense trauma suffered in the car wreck. Our client battled compartment syndrome as a result of the injuries sustained in the car wreck.
Our client underwent surgery for (1) retrograde IM nail left femur fracture, (2) four compartment fasciotomy left lower leg, (3) three compartment fasciotomy left thigh, (4) closed treatment pelvic ring fracture, and (5) placement of wound back left thigh.
The doctor found displaced left distal femur fracture, tight compartments, pre-op foot drop, and large hematoma posterior of thigh compartment. The doctor further opined that our client would require staged debridement and possible closure on Wednesday or Thursday.
Two days later, our client underwent another surgery on his left thigh as a result of traumatic compartment syndrome. At the end of the procedure, the doctor had to apply a large negative pressure wound therapy device. The wound would not close because the thigh remained too tight. The post-operative plan was for our client to return to the operative room to close the wound later in the week.
The Injuries Eventually Lead To Our Client’s Wrongful Death Settlement
The next day our client had been sitting up talking to family when he started gurgling and progressively lost consciousness. At 12:00 p.m., a nurse came in and found him sitting in the stretcher chair and stating that he was “tired.” The nurse stepped out to retrieve a suction and returned to find our client completely unconscious and not breathing.
The nurse called a code blue and heroic measures were unsuccessfully attempted. Our client tragically passed away at 12:18 p.m. that day. His doctor noted that her impression was it was most likely a pulmonary embolism, which is a risk of immobilization and surgery both of which were caused by the wreck.
Our client incurred $211,061.02 in medical expenses from his 4 days in the hospital. His treatment was extensive and certainly reasonable given his injuries. Medicare paid for his treatment and was paid back after the settlement.
Our client was not married at the time of his death but he left two adult twin children who were class 1 beneficiaries under Code § 8.01-53(A).
In wrongful death cases, the children of the deceased are entitled to damages for “sorrow, mental anguish and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent; compensation for reasonably expected loss of (i) income of the decedent and (ii) services, protection, care and assistance provided by the decedent; expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent incident to the injury resulting in death; reasonable funeral expenses; and punitive damages may be recovered for willful or wanton conduct, or such recklessness as evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others.” Code § 8.01-52.
Wrongful Death Harms and Losses are Real
Our client’s death came as a shock to his daughters. Both loved their Dad dearly and relied on him for encouragement, advice, and guidance. One of his daughters described her Dad as “larger than life and the most incredible human being you’ll ever meet.” She lamented the fact that he will not be here to see her daughter, his granddaughter, grow up, start kindergarten, play softball, learn how to ride horses, ride in her first horse show, dance her first dance recital, graduate from high school, and celebrate birthdays. He will not be here to call and sing his silly happy birthday song or to act like a kid, as he typically did, at Christmas.
His other daughter was engaged and felt immense sadness that he would not be there to walk her down the isle when she gets married. These future events will be very difficult for both daughters but most of all, he is not here to be a part of their everyday lives. He will not be there to answer the phone when his daughters call for advice, to vent about difficulties, to celebrate the victories and survive the defeats of life.
Both daughters were very close with their Father. Horses were a common bond between the three of them. Our client raised and trained horses and owned several prize-winning equines. His daughters would frequently accompany or meet their Father at shows in which their Dad would participate. Before all else, his daughters will remember their Dad as a loyal friend, servant, horseman, cowboy, teacher, coach, comedian, advocate, biggest fan, and proudest parent. This loss burdens both of them every day.
The Wrongful Death Settlement
Given the deep sorrow, anguish and pain suffered in this case, we knew that the search for insurance policies would be key in creating a recovery in this case. We were able to string together three insurance policies for a total available insurance policies of $500,000 per person and $900,000 per occurrence.
Neither this wrongful death settlement nor any amount of money would bring him back or fill the whole that was left by his untimely passing. And, because there was one other needless loss of life, and several other significant injuries, all parties were forced to settle for less than what each case was worth.
The bulk of the insurance proceeds were split between the two wrongful death cases which put a value of $350,000 on our client’s case. While we certainly believe that the case was worth much more than that, the limitations of assets, liability insurance, and underinsured motorist insurance required a settlement.
The Virginia State Bar requires that we give a disclaimer whenever we talk about case results. As we are sure you already know, the case result described above must be read in context with the unique facts of this particular case. Each case result depends upon a variety of factors unique to each case, which is why we describe those facts in detail. To be clear, this case result does not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyers at Osterbind Law, PLLC.