Walter Carrick v. State of New York
Type of Injury
MASSIVE INJURIES INCLUDING HEAD TRAUMA AND EXTENSIVE FRACTURES
$5,160,157, reduced to $1,806,055 for 65% comparative negligence of Clmt.
XIII/28-23 MOTOR VEHICLE DAMAGES TRIAL MASSIVE INJURIES INCLUDING HEAD TRAUMA AND EXTENSIVE FRACTURES SEAT BELT DEFENSE
Walter Carrick v. State of New York Claim No. 78204 12-Page Decision Filed 12/13/95 Judge Albert A. Blinder, Court of Claims, Manhattan
DECISION: $5,160,157, reduced to $1,806,055 for 65% comparative negligence of Clmt. Breakdown: $1,500,000 for past pain and suffering; $1, 500,000 for future pain and suffering; $98,084 for past medical expenses; $ 63,500 for future medical expenses; $227,530 for past lost earnings; $1, 982,546 for future lost earnings. The court deducted $198,255 for Clmt.’s failure to mitigate damages, and $13,248 for collateral source payments.
Clmt. Atty: Edwin N. Weidman of Richard J. Katz, Manhattan
Deft. Atty: Kenneth F. Keutmann, Asst. Atty. General
Facts: On 4/23/87, Clmt., then age 27, was involved in a serious accident, for which the State of New York was previously found 35% liable. This trial concerned damages only.
Injuries: closed head trauma resulting in various central nervous system problems; 27 fractures including multiple facial fractures and the loss of nine teeth, multiple fractures of the right hand and wrist, fractured right ankle, left foot, and vertebra. Clmt. was hospitalized for 2 months and was on a ventilator for much of that time. The head trauma, although leaving his gross intellectual powers intact, impaired his memory and concentration to a degree that he can no longer hold employment or pursue hobbies such as reading, music, or athletic activities. He suffered double vision and has leg shortening of 1 inch on one side. His vocal cords were injured as a result of being on a ventilator for a long period of time, leaving him with a hoarse voice that is abnormally low in volume. He faces dental implant procedures that will require 2 years to complete and are necessary to permit Clmt. to eat normally. He also suffered the loss of physical strength and normal movement in the right arm and hand.
Clmt. testified that he averaged approximately $400 per week as a salaried employee. The court, however, based its projections for future lost earnings on statistical earnings of other white males with Clmt.’s education (he left high school in his senior year). The court reduced his earnings, based on evidence that Clmt. had failed to attempt to mitigate damages by seeking employment rehabilitation. Based on testimony of Clmt. ‘s vocational rehabilitation therapist, the court found that Clmt.’s potential was limited, and reduced that element of damages by only 10%. It was conceded that Clmt. was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. Judge Blinder found, however, that he would not reduce damages based on that factor. Both experts testified that a seat belt will not prevent injury if the integrity of the passenger compartment is so compromised that portions of the damaged vehicle, or any outside object, come into contact with, crush, or pierce the bodies of the occupants. Clmt. Experts: John Moore, seat belt expert, Albany; Dr. Conrad Berenson, Ph.D., economist, Woodbury; Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan. Deft. Experts: Dr. James Pugh, seat belt expert, Inter-City Testing, Mineola; Dr. Morris Ehrenreich, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan.