Michael Neff and his team of Dwayne Adams, Shane Peagler and Susan Cremer, along with Todd Henningsen at Henningsen Injury Attorneys obtained a global settlement of $1,325,000.00 on behalf of a 68 year old woman who suffered an amputation, following a serious broken-leg injury.
Michael Neff noted, “I’ve never had a case where liability was both so clear and yet still so complicated.” The incident occurred when the medical transport driver braked sharply to avoid a City of East Point police officer. The police officer was responding to an incident, and suddenly cut across one lane of stopped cars to enter a turning lane. When he saw the Non-Emergency Medical Transport (NEMT) vehicle approaching, the police officer hit his brakes hard and stopped. The driver of the NEMT vehicle also braked abruptly. Since the driver of the NEMT vehicle did not strap in the passenger, the passenger fell forward from her wheelchair and badly broke her leg.
On one hand, the police officer clearly chose to drive in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-6 in that he did not activate his siren, did not have his flashing lights on, and did not use a turn signal. Thus, he didn’t drive with due regard for the safety of all persons.
On the other hand, the non-emergency medical transportation driver strapped the client’s wheelchair securely into the floor, but did not use the shoulder strap to secure the client into the wheelchair. Thus, the driver violated one of the primary safety rules in the non-emergency medical transportation industry.
The NEMT defendant hired an accident reconstructionist who determined the speed of the NEMT prior to hitting the brakes was between 14 m.p.h. to 19 m.p.h. That conclusion was not in controversy. Plaintiff’s counsel concluded that the police officer had some fault, but that the plaintiff would not have been injured had the NEMT driver strapped in the passenger. Todd Henningsen noted that at trial, liability would involve major finger pointing between the NEMT vehicle and the police officer.
Susan Cremer noted, “Like liability, the damages were also very clear and yet still very complicated.” At the time of the wreck, the passenger was in route to her home after completing dialysis treatment for end stage renal failure. She suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, and had previously lost her other leg due to peripheral vascular disease.
As a result of the incident, the plaintiff incurred approximately $170,000 in medical bills. The plaintiff had no lost income or diminished earning capacity. Damages were contested on multiple levels including her life expectancy due to her multiple chronic health problems. The defense suggested that the plaintiff would have less than 4 to 5 years to live.
Another challenging issue was the Plaintiff’s testimony that that she could do many activities of daily living on her own. She claimed she did not need help doing transfers from bed. Further, she lived with her daughter so if she needed help, she could ask her daughter. Thus, the Defendant asserted that before the wreck, the plaintiff needed minimal assistance in her home, and after the wreck, she would still need minimal assistance in the home.
The City of East Point settled their portion of the claim for $325,000. Gino Brogdon of Henning Mediation mediated a $1 million settlement with the NEMT company.