Any injury to the brain is something that you should take extremely seriously. With brain injuries from car accidents, however, there are a lot of reasons why you should also consider the amount and kind of recovery that is possible in a potential lawsuit. These tend to be extremely complicated and harmful to the victim. Plus, they are normally accompanied with extraordinary medical bills, absences from work, and a general change in the quality of life. Therefore, we wanted to give you a sense of the recoveries (jury awards and settlement amounts combined) that plaintiffs with brain injuries have been able to achieve across the country over the last 20 years. It is not a comprehensive breakdown but does hint at the value as seen through stories and statistics of similar plaintiffs in the past.PLAINTIFFS’ RECOVERY IN CAR ACCIDENTS INVOLVING BRAIN INJURIES NATIONALLY (1994-2014)
STATE FREQUENCY OF CAR ACCIDENTS CASES INVOLVING BRAIN INJURIES AS PERCENTAGE OF THE NATIONAL TOTAL (1994-2014) (Rounded to hundredths)
Here are some major takeaways from these national accident cases:CASE SUMMARIES AND HIGHLIGHTS
Below we have listed some case summaries to give you an indication of why some plaintiffs were more successful than others in obtaining recovery:
- While brain injuries are extraordinarily complicated and damaging to plaintiffs, they are not as rare as others, typically occurring only in 6%-8% of car accident case.
- The prospect of a large payout might have scared some defendants, because settlement was more common in brain injury cases than in others with car accidents.
- For those obtaining awards or settlements, the median recovery was a little under $50,000 and the average hovered around $1,000,000.
CASE NAME: BARNABY v. HAWK
RECOVERY: $1,200,000 JURY AWARD
RECOVERY KIND: PAIN AND SUFFERING
This case took place at a Virginia intersection. The plaintiff, a young woman in her mid-20s was waiting for the light to change when the defendant struck her from behind her vehicle. The force of the collision even sent her flying into the car in front of her. As a result of the incident, she claimed she suffered a mild brain injury as well as a rib and rotator cuff injury. However, she also experienced ongoing and long-term effects including depression, suicidal thoughts, chronic headaches, dizziness, cognitive impairment, vision loss, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The defendant admitted that the physical injuries occurred as a result of the accident (rib and rotator cuff) but denied that her allegations of brain or other cognitive impairments followed from the crash. They ended up going to court because they could not settle on the proper source of her injuries or the appropriate amount to settle the controversy. The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded her $1,200,000 in compensatory damages (pain and suffering). Faced with contradicting testimony regarding how the plaintiff incurred her brain damage and obvious lack of significant medical experience or knowledge, the jury might have thought that they naturally followed from the more physical injuries she sustained that clearly came from the car crash.
CASE NAME: MISTICH v. PARRISH
The plaintiff and his two sons were driving along a sleepy north Texas road in 2012 when the defendant bumped them from behind. At the time, the defendant was talking on his cell phone and, more importantly, working for his employer. This was more important because if a plaintiff can show that an employee committed a tort within the course of his or employment, then that employer can be held vicariously liable for the plaintiff’s damages under the theory of respondeat superior. The plaintiffs in this case had significant damages. One of the children (Gaven) suffered extraordinary brain damage; the other child (Ethan) claimed various physical and emotional injuries; and the father claimed damages related to property, wages, and consortium. Their general theory for liability was that the defendant-driver was negligent in not keeping a proper lookout and safe distance between the two vehicles and that his employer was negligent in hiring, training, or supervising him under respondeat superior. Alternatively, they claimed that the company negligently entrusted the vehicle to the driver. Both sides decided to settle out of court before this case could make its way through trial and the amounts were broken down in the following manner:
- $900,000 for Gaven.
- $10,000 for Ethan
- $1,079,179 for medical/attorney/miscellaneous to all plaintiffs.
- Total: $1,989,179
CASE NAME: NAYBERG v. NASSAU COUNTY
STATE: NEW YORK
The plaintiff in this case was initially a bystander to the accident that eventually caused his injuries. He was sitting at a red light when one defendant made a left turn and crashed into another defendant’s car. The first defendant was apparently speeding and the second defendant was on his phone at the time of the incident. The force of the collision sent one of the cars flying into the plaintiff’s vehicle causing him great harm, including the following: concussion, post-concussion syndrome, spinal damage, shoulder pain, lost teeth, and broken bones. The plaintiff sued both of the other drivers for negligence and the employer of the second driver-the county of Nassau, New York. He claimed he had injuries and significant damages that followed from those injuries such as the medical costs required to treat these wounds and loss of income from missed work. The second defendant-driver denied all responsibility and said that the first driver, in attempting to make a left turn at the wrong time, was completely to blame for the plaintiff’s injuries. The jury disagreed and found that both were equally responsible and equally liable for the damages which they found were as follows:
- Pain and Suffering:
- Past and Future Medical:
- Past and Future Income:
CASE NAME: GUMP v. ADAM MAINS
The plaintiff in this case was travelling with three others en route to a rehearsal dinner for a wedding the next day. The car they were in was in the right lane and the immediate left lane was closed for construction while the more distant left lane was still open to traffic. Cautiously, their car attempted to turn left and cut across both left lanes to enter a parking lot. Then, out of nowhere the defendant smashed into their vehicle with his pickup truck. The plaintiff was knocked unconscious and had to be resuscitated at the scene of the accident. Further, she was in a coma for 6 weeks and sustained permanent brain damage as well as injuries to her lung, ribs, and other body parts because of the crash. She sued the driver for negligence in causing the crash but also the county and construction company for failing to maintain a safe environment. The driver replied that the improper turn of the plaintiff’s vehicle was the reason for the accident; the construction company and the county replied that the accident was the fault of one of the two drivers and not them. This messy situation (with many parties involved and significant, complicated injuries) did not lend itself to an easy settlement; so, a trial ensued and the jury found that the defendant-driver was 42% at fault, the construction company was 18% at fault, and the county was 40% at fault. They had to pay for that percentage of damages that were as follows:
- Pain and Suffering:
- Loss of life enjoyment: