The 66-year-old plaintiff was driving her vehicle when it was struck by an oncoming car that had veered into her lane.
The 17-year-old defendant driver maintained, and witnesses corroborated, that she had skidded on a patch of ice on a road that had yet to be sanded or plowed.
The defendant’s father was also named as a defendant, but solely in his capacity as owner of the vehicle pursuant to G.L. c. 231, Sect. 85A.
Defense counsel argued that it was well established that the mere fact of skidding did not create liability. In rebuttal, plaintiff’s counsel pointed to other citations suggesting that skidding may be caused or accompanied by negligence.
The plaintiff expected the evidence to show that the defendant’s speed was too fast, considering that she conceded in her deposition that she fully expected there to be water/ice when she took a right turn onto the subject roadway; that the accident occurred after a second skid, meaning she had even more notice; that the distance of the two skids comprised several hundred feet, according to the landmarks on the roadway that the defendant referenced in her deposition; that the two vehicles sustained major damage; and that both parties sustained serious injuries.
The plaintiff’s claims called into question the defendant’s purported speed of under 15 miles per hour.
The plaintiff suffered a comminuted calcaneous fracture, involving the subtalar joint (the talocalcaneal) and the calcaneal cuboid joint. The plaintiff was left with diminished motion and she walked on the outside of her foot because of its varus position. The plaintiff would always require a cane and would not be able to drive again as she lacked the foot strength to apply enough force to the brake pedal.
The plaintiff’s special damages were $101,000, consisting of $65,000 in medical bills and $36,000 in loss of earning capacity. The plaintiff also contended that there could be an additional $100,000 in special damages occurring as a result of a fusion (estimated cost $25,000) and her intention to retire one year prematurely.
This was disputed by the defendants as they maintained that the plaintiff, at the age of 68, would have retired anyway, and pointed to the fact that she had been able to teach over the past two years. Also, the plaintiff had not scheduled a date for the fusion.
The plaintiff had some unrelated cardiac issues that called into question the likelihood of her undergoing any additional surgery.
A $450,000 settlement was reached two weeks after the case was mediated.
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