A man, who suffered substantial injuries after the car in which he was travelling was involved in a non-collision accident, has won his claim for injured car passenger compensation against the negligent driver and been awarded more than 2.7 million dollars by a jury in Lee County, Florida.
Jiri Renotiere, from Clay County, Florida, was a passenger in a car driven by Waldemar Baranowski in May 2009, when Baranowski – who, the trial jury heard, had been speeding in wet conditions – lost control of the vehicle as he approached a bend, crashed through a barrier and landed in a ditch.
Jiri was thrown from the vehicle, which burst into flames shortly after leaving the road. Lying close to the car, and having fractured his shoulder blade and several facial bones, Jiri sustained third-degree burns alongside the left of his body including his shoulder, arm and foot.
Both victims were rushed to Tampa General Hospital, were Jiri remained for four weeks recovering from his injuries and undergoing multiple skin graft operations. On his discharge from hospital, Jiri underwent a further three months of physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
As passengers in car accidents are entitled to claim for injured car passenger compensation against the driver of the vehicle in which they were travelling should that driver be responsible for their injuries, Jiri claimed that Baranowski was travelling too fast for the conditions and was reaching for his mobile telephone as the accident happened.
Following a four-day trial, in which witnesses to the accident confirmed that Baranowski had been driving carelessly, the jury awarded Jiri 1 million dollars for his pain and suffering during the accident and throughout his medical treatment, a further 1 million dollars to cover past and future medical expenses and 3,000 for lost property. Jiri´s wife, Marie, was also awarded 700,000 dollars for loss of Jiri´s services – a total of 2,703,000 dollars as settlement of Jiri´s claim for injured car passenger compensation.
The family of Zoila Tellez, who was killed in a tragic railway accident, have had a negotiated settlement in excess of 36 million dollars for wrongful death compensation approved by an Illinois County District Court judge.
Zoila (44) of Chicago, Illinois, was travelling in a car with her husband Jose and pregnant daughter Adriana in June 2009, when the family pulled up to red lights at a level crossing just outside of the city. The train that was due to pass was a Canadian National Railways goods vehicle, which consisted of 114 freight wagons – 76 of which were tankers filled with liquid ethanol.
Due to heavy rain, a nearby retention pond had overflowed, washing away some of the ballast beneath the track and, as the Illinois Court heard, leaving the rails “hanging in the air”. The approaching train, ignorant of the hazard ahead, derailed shortly before the level crossing at which the Tellez family had pulled up, causing several of the ethanol tankers to explode and setting the Tellez car alight.
Jose and Adriana Tellez managed to escape the accident with severe burns – Adriana miscarrying her baby soon after – while Zoila Tellez was unable to get out of the vehicle and burned to death.
In two separate lawsuits following the tragedy, it was revealed that the County Sheriff´s Office had previously alerted the Canadian National Railways communication centre in Montreal about the potential hazard, but the employee who received the warning had not been trained about how to respond to the alert, and the message was never transmitted to the train driver.
Lawyers for the family also discovered that a weather alert had been sent to the company´s Edmonton office two hours before the tragedy, but the employee there had not read the full message as so many alerts were being delivered that evening. Canadian National Railways admitted that had the messages been dealt with in a prompt and efficient manner, an engineer would have inspected the track before allowing the train to proceed and would have therefore prevented the accident.
Acknowledging that the death of Zoila Tellez and the injuries to her husband and daughter were due to neglect, insurers negotiated a settlement which sees Jose Tellez receive 22.5 million dollars, while Adriana had a separate settlement of 13.75 million dollars approved by the judge.
A Canadian man, who suffered severe brain damage when the vehicle in which he was a passenger was involved in a collision with another car, has been awarded 4.2 million dollars in one of Ontario´s biggest road traffic accident lawsuits.
Larry Greenlaw (52) of Angus, Ontario, was a passenger in his friend´s Toyota Echo when, in February 2007, it was involved in a road traffic accident with the Subaru Impreza driven by Luc Saulnier. Larry´s friend, Benjamin Dunnett, Saulnier and two passengers in Saulnier´s car were transported to Royal Victoria Hospital by ambulance with non-life-threatening injuries, but Larry had to be airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital and then transferred to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, where he spent one month in and out of consciousness with bleeding in the brain.
As a result of the accident Larry sustained a catastrophic brain injury, resulting in severe cognitive impairments, and requires 24-hour care along with on-going treatment.
At the court hearing in Barrie, the jury heard that Larry does not understand that he is no longer the same as he once was and wonders why he needs a “babysitter”. His condition was likened to Alzheimers and the jury heard that, because of this, Larry cannot be left along for longer than five minutes.
The action had been filed against both Dunnett and Saulnier – with both denying liability for Larry´s injuries – however, after a five day trial, the jury found Dunnet (the driver of the car in which Larry was travelling) 80% responsible for his injuries and Saulnier 20% liable.
Larry and his wife were awarded 4.2 million (Canadian) dollars to cover the costs of his ongoing care which was understood to be the largest amount ever awarded in a juried personal injury trial in Barrie.
A 22 year old handyman, whose life was shattered when the car in which he was a back seat passenger was struck from behind by a drunk driver, has been awarded 15.4 million dollars in the Supreme Court of Florida.
Dwight Grant of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was seated in a friend´s stationery car, when it was struck from behind at speed by a car driven by Matthew Lyons of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dwight sustained multiple skull fractures, frontal lobe brain damage and facial injuries in the collision and spent two weeks in intensive care having reconstructive surgery.
Following his discharge from hospital, Dwight developed a seizure disorder that could not be controlled by medication and Judge Mily Rodriguez-Powell at the Supreme Court of Florida heard that the damage that had been done to Dwight´s brain affected his decision making ability and short-term memory. It was testified that Dwight will never be able to work again.
The claim for personal injury compensation was brought against Matthew Lyons when it was discovered that Lyons was nearly four times over the legal alcohol limit when the accident happened, and it took a six person jury panel very little time to find in favour of the plaintiff.
Their award of 15.4 million dollars compensates Dwight for past and future pain and suffering (6 million dollars), past and future medical care (6.7 million dollars) and past and future loss of earnings (2.7 million dollars).
A minister´s wife and parent counsellor from Iowa, who suffered extensive brain damage in a road traffic accident in 2004, has been awarded 11 million dollars by an Illinois judge.
Carla Link (56) of Burlington, Iowa, was returning home from a family Labor Day excursion in June 2004, when the van in which she was travelling was struck by a trailer which had become detached from the pick-up driven by Clovis Crane (31) of Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Mr Crane had fallen asleep of the wheel of his vehicle, and his consequently erratic driving had caused the trailer to become detached. It collided with the Link´s van and caused it to crash into guardrail – after which it rolled over three times.
Carla was thrown through the passenger window as her seatbelt snapped due to the force of the impact, and suffered a broken vertebrae, ribs, collarbone and forearm. She also sustained damage to her spine, pelvic area and legs, and was diagnosed with brain trauma and damage to her nervous system on arrival at hospital. Carla´s husband and daughter also suffered minor injuries.
Although having healed from many of her injuries, Judge Jeff Ford at the Champagne County Court heard that Carla is confined to a wheelchair and still suffers a skin sensation akin to being on fire because of the nerve damage. This exceptionally painful condition will remain with her for the rest of her life.
Liability was not contested and, making his announcement of the 11 million dollar award, the judge stated that it represented Carla´s medical bills (which amounted to 699,000 dollars), the loss of a normal life, physical disfigurement and her pain and suffering.
Claims for whiplash injury compensation are the highest in Europe claims James Dalton – Assistant Director of Motor and Liability for the Association of British Insurers.
Speaking in Leeds at the 2011 Whiplash Conference, Mr. Dalton stated that three-quarters of personal injury claims in the UK are for whiplash injury, and insurers are paying out nearly two billion pounds each year for whiplash claims.
According to figures revealed by the Association of British Insurers, approximately 1,200 claims for whiplash injury compensation are made every day in the UK – six times more than the claims received in a year from people claiming workplace injury compensation.
The Association of British Insurers estimate that the volume of whiplash compensation claims adds an average of 74.00 pounds to British motorist´s insurance premiums and, in his speech, Mr. Dalton called on the government to quickly implement their proposals on civil justice reform.
The changes, claimed Mr. Dalton, would ensure that genuine claimants received fair compensation and access to rehabilitation services more quickly, while the potential for fraudulent claims would be decreased.
In a ruling that will have important implications worldwide for compensation cases, the US government has proposed a civil penalty of $16.4 million on Toyota because the company “knowingly hid a dangerous defect” that caused its vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly. Toyota was initially praised by US authorities for the way it handled recalls to repair faulty accelerator pedals on more than 8 million cars globally (including 2.3 million cars and trucks in the USA).
However, it later emerged that Toyota waited at least four months before reporting the faulty accelerator pedals to US regulators, in contravention to safety regulations that require safety defects to be reported in five business days.
Toyota is facing at least 177 consumer and shareholder lawsuits seeking class-action status and at least 56 suits claiming personal injuries or deaths caused by sudden acceleration incidents. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that 52 people have died in Toyota accelerator-related crashes. A much higher number of people have escaped death but been injured. On April 9th, 2010, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered all federal lawsuits related to the Toyota recall should be heard together at the Central District of California before Judge James Selna.
There is also an unusual case of a Toyota Camry driver who claimed he tried to stop his car but crashed into the back of another car, killing three people. The driver in the read end car accident was sentenced to eight years in prison. The conviction was unusual because the car was clearly out of control having dodged cars at an intersection prior to finally crashing, and the driver had family members in the car. The investigation at the time focussed on the brakes, which were found to be working correctly, rather than investigating the accelerator.
Toyota car owners in the USA are also suing for the reduced resale value of the cards due to the recalls. The claim is supported by various industry guides to the resale value of cars, such as Kelley Blue Book, which lowered the resale value of recalled Toyota cars by an average of 3.5 percent. The price reduction was up to $750 for a Toyota Sequoia. The lawsuits related to lost resale value are considered a much greater financial liability than the lawsuits related to crashes because there are millions of Toyota car owners that may be entitled to compensation. In a previous recall in the USA, Ford Explorer owners were given vouchers worth between $300 and $500 towards the cost of a new Ford car.
Toyota Recalls in Ireland
Toyota Ireland announced in February that it was recalling 26,000 cars in Ireland, although this number was later reduced to just over 18,000. There was immediate speculation that drivers whose car was subject to the recall but ignored the recall and any potential problems with their vehicles could be potentially liable in the case of an accident and even face charges related to negligence. Toyota Ireland issued a statement on the issue of legal liability: “A driver of a potentially affected vehicle could only be the subject of a charge under the Road Traffic Act if involved in an accident if he or she is aware that their vehicle is the subject of this recall campaign and that he or she is aware of the signs of wear and tear, symptomatic of the defect in the accelerator mechanism and they have become apparent, namely the accelerator sticking or becoming slow to return to idle, and they continue to drive the vehicle in this condition.”
Toyota is clearly exposed to product liability claims due to its faulty accelerators, and will no doubt be involved in many road traffic accident claims, as well as pedestrian accident claims, claims from passengers in car accidents, and most of all, claims for rear-end car accidents where the rear driver is driving a Toyota car.