Our client, a 76-year old man, was seriously injured in a drunk-driver caused accident. The accident happened on a Sunday, at 6:15 a.m., as our client and his wife were on their way to church. While our client was stopped at an intersection in Sun City for a red light, his 1991 Lincoln was rear-ended by a tow truck owned and operated by a local towing company. Our client suffered a compression fracture of his lumbar spine from the force of impact.
The driver of the tow truck appeared intoxicated, and he failed a field sobriety test administered by an officer at the accident scene. He was, accordingly, arrested for driving under the influence. A subsequently administered breath test confirmed a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. While in custody, the driver admitted to police officers that he had drunk a 12-pack of beer. He claimed to have had his last beer at 2:00 a.m., four hours before the accident, and had not gotten any sleep that night. The tow truck driver later plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from this injury accident.
The force of impact was so severe that our client had to be removed from his car by paramedics. Quite astonishingly, our client’s wife suffered only minor injuries in the accident. Both were wearing seat belts. Our client was taken by ambulance to the emergency department of a Sun City hospital. He was complaining of neck and upper back pain. A CT scan showed compression fractures involving the first and second lumbar vertebrae (L1-L2). Four hours after the accident, our client was flown by emergency helicopter to a Phoenix hospital for spinal care. Two days later, he underwent spinal surgery to repair the compression fractures. Eight days later, our client was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital for follow up care. Our client remained hospitalized for four months after the accident. Fortunately, he was able to regain most of his pre-accident strength and mobility, and is able to function in a home environment. However, he likely will suffer pain from the accident for the rest of his life.
We discovered during our investigation that the tow truck driver had been arrested five years before this accident for driving on a suspended license. Police found drug paraphernalia and a gun in his vehicle. And, officers believed that he showed signs of being under the influence of drugs. He plead guilty in the earlier case to possession of drug paraphernalia, and was placed on two years probation. His probation terminated the year before this accident occurred. Although this evidence was legally inadmissible to show fault in our case, we nevertheless brought it to the attention of the prosecutor and the insurance adjusters with whom we were dealing. This case was settled for full policy limits of $600,000.
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