High School Runner Struck by Utility Truck Receives $1m Settlement

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. on Thursday, September 2, 2010

Driver crossed over into wrong lane, allegedly lied about accident location $1 million settlement – A high school student who was struck from behind by a utility truck while running on the side of the road has settled his personal injury lawsuit against the utility for $1 million.

At 2:30 p.m. on June 18, 2009, the student was running in Jefferson County near the intersection of Carol Park and Bear Creek roads, heading south in the northbound lane of Carol Park Road so that he could see oncoming traffic. The utility truck was traveling south on Carol Park Road when, without warning, it crossed the center line and veered into the northbound lane, striking the student from behind.

The truck dragged the student a short distance, crushing the toes of his right foot and ripping tendons and skin from the foot. After the student rolled away from the truck, the driver drove away, but eventually he turned around, loaded the student into the truck and called the student’s parents to inform them of what had happened. When the utility truck driver arrived at the student’s home, a sheriff’s deputy was waiting. The driver lied to the deputy about the location of the accident and claimed that the student had run in front of his truck and was at fault for the accident. Because of the amount of blood he had lost and the severe pain and fear he was experiencing, the student wasn’t able to refute the driver’s claims at the time.

The day after the accident, however, the student told the sheriff’s deputy that the utility truck driver had lied about the accident. The deputy confirmed the running route with one of the student’s friends and found a blood trail at the accident scene. When confronted, the utility truck driver admitted that he had been “mistaken” about the circumstances surrounding the accident but offered no further explanation for the inconsistencies. The student was taken by ambulance to St. John’s Hospital, where he underwent skin grafting procedures in which skin from his thigh was used to construct a covering for his foot. Hardware was used to repair the shattered bones of the foot. During a two-week stay in the hospital, the student underwent seven separate surgical procedures, but he will need two additional procedures in the future.

Also while the student was in the hospital, posttraumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder, anxiety disorder and depression were diagnosed. As a result of the accident, the student will require expensive custom orthotic inserts for the rest of his life. Before the accident, the student had the ability and talent o secure a college athletic scholarship, but the accident left him unable to run competitively. Because the student has a rare form of dyslexia, many other avenues of college funding are likely closed to him. The student’s medical bills were approximately $136,895; medical bills for the two procedures the student still requires are estimated at $50,000, and annual orthotic replacements will cost an additional $7,430 over his lifetime.

Brown & Crouppen lawyer J. Brad Wilmoth represented the injured student. On April 12 Wilmoth submitted a demand letter to the insurer for the utility company asserting that the driver’s actions were not only negligent but also willful and wanton and that they merited an award of punitive damages. Wilmoth says, “Research of verdicts and settlements in Missouri and Jefferson County over the past decade made it clear that a verdict in excess of $1 million was reasonable, given the egregious facts of this case. The real challenge in this case was quantifying the loss of a potential running scholarship to a high school student. I think the research we provided the opposing side went a long way towards making this settlement possible.”

On July 14, 2010, without admitting liability, the insurance company agreed to settle the claim for $1 million.

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