In August of 2014, the 67 year old Plaintiff was operating her bicycle within a clearly marked lane on Route 15 in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The Defendant, a high school senior, was operating his motor vehicle in the same direction. After initially denying responsibility for the accident, the teenager ultimately admitted that he looked down at his phone in order to “unlock it” and when he did so his car drifted into the breakdown lane striking the bicyclist a glancing blow. Ultimately, the teen was charged with both Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Use of a Cell Phone When Operating a Motor Vehicle for a person under 18.
The Plaintiff suffered significant injuries as a result of being thrown from her bicycle. She was brought by ambulance to Harrington Hospital where a helicopter awaited to med-flight her to UMass Memorial Medical Center. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with a lower leg fracture and two spinal fractures. Thankfully, the spinal fractures were non-displaced and did not in any way affect her spinal cord. The leg fracture required surgery for the implantation of a rod. While in the hospital, the Plaintiff fell while in the bathroom fracturing her right shoulder. This injury also required surgery with the implantation of hardware.
The Plaintiff’s hospital course was difficult. She had a wound on her lower leg that ultimately required a wound-vac due to the onset of infection and had to undergo a third surgery to close the wound.
In all, Plaintiff incurred $200,000.00 in medical expenses, but was able to return to full-time employment within four months of the accident.
The parties agreed to mediate the matter pre-suit. The Defendants stated that their trial strategy would be to stipulate to liability in order to keep out of evidence any information about the Defendant’s cell phone use. Plaintiff’s counsel countered by stating that the parents would be brought in on a negligent entrustment count and that the cell phone use would be brought in under that claim.
The case was settled at mediation for 1.5 million dollars.