Our client, age 34, was hired into a Virginia shipyard welding Apprentice Program and less than a year later, in May 2018, she was injured on an interstate highway when the defendant tractor trailer driver swerved to the right to avoid rear ending other vehicles.  He collided twice with her car before his unit jack-knifed over a jersey wall, and her car spun towards the shoulder, before coming to rest facing back towards oncoming traffic.

Our client was removed from her totaled car with the jaws of life by the rescue and fire personnel.  She suffered left shoulder injuries, lacerations to her left hand from broken glass, and a closed head concussion injury.  Plaintiff was ultimately diagnosed with post-concussion headaches, treated with medications and post-traumatic stress disorder.  She was further treated by an orthopedic surgeon for low back and neck pain and provided a 10-pound lifting restriction, but the restrictions prevented her from advancing in her apprenticeship with the shipyard, and instead she was provided a desk job and returned to work full-time, but with reduced potential earnings.

Key Legal Strategies

Her medical expenses totaled $35,000.00.  We suggested and located a vocational counselor test and evaluate her, and provide an opinion about her lost earnings and lost earning capacity.  Our client’s retained vocational counselor provided a report indicating that her earnings plateaued around $60,000.00 a year in the light-duty position, where others in her apprentice program were advancing to earning up to $109,000.00 per year.  The vocational expert calculated her earning capacity losses at $40,000.00 per year, exclusive of lost potential overtime.

Given that our client was age 34 when injured, the major issues during the litigation were the scope of her future lost wage-earning capacity losses, and whether she had any preexisting low back pain prior to the accident, as suggested by the defense attorney.

After many parties had testified by deposition, the parties voluntarily mediated the case with a retired circuit Judge from the McCammon Group and arrived at an agreeable settlement.

Outcome

$225,000 settlement

Background on Case

When: March, 2022

Case: Virginia Circuit Court, Confidential details

Staff:  Richard N. Shapiro, attorney

Paula S., Paralegal