Teen Car Accident
16 Year Old Flips Car, 15 Year Old Suffers Broken Neck, New Bedford
On a clear Friday evening in October 2010, our client, Ned, left his parents’ home in the New Bedford area, and got into his friend’s sedan. He sat in the back seat and buckled his seat belt; Betsy drove and Suzie was in the front passenger seat. They were going out. A Smashing Pumpkins CD was cranked up loud, and “Tonight Tonight” was playing: “Time is never time at all/You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth/And our lives are forever changed.” No one had any alcohol or drugs. Betsy wasn’t even driving much over the speed limit when she lost control of the car, went over an embankment, rolled the vehicle sideways, and smashed it into a tree. Ned’s head was rammed against the roof of the car prior to the collision with the tree.
Ned woke up to the girls screaming out his name. He was hunched forward and heard a hissing in his head. The Nissan Sentra was on its right side. Ned crawled upward and out of the back left door, stood on top of the car, opened the driver’s door, and pulled both girls out of the driver’s side, one by one. Ned fell onto the grass with the world spinning around him. The girls removed his cell phone from his pocket and called for help.
Ned was taken to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a severe fracture of the vertebral body of in the base of his neck, a C7 burst fracture. He was treated with a halo immobilization device and halo vest: essentially, the doctors’ drilled holes into his head to mount a cast to keep his head from moving and further damaging his neck and spinal cord. The halo device was applied to four points on his head with a pressure of 8 pounds per square inch. Ned reports it was never comfortable during the 10 week duration of that device on his head. Following the halo cast, he was placed in a Miami J cervical orthosis for support and underwent rehabilitation therapy for months. In addition to the discomfort of the halo cast, Ned was in tremendous pain. The pain medication caused awful side effects, including inability to sleep, shaking, anxiety, and nausea. Ned also suffered post traumatic stress disorder
Ned missed several months of school, had to have tutors in all of his subjects, and returned to school somewhat behind his classmates in his studies, unable to go to gym, and in pain. He had been attending classes in voc tech as well, however, he was too weak to continue with that physically rigorous field of study. Furthermore, the doctor recommends a different vocation. While better, Ned may not ever be pain free in his neck and back.
From a claim perspective, Ned was lucky. There was a six figure insurance policy and, of necessity, the insurance company insuring Betsy’s parents’ vehicle admitted liability on Betsy and, after a thorough investigation, they agreed to pay the full policy. Ned was able to avoid filing a lawsuit against his friend, Betsy, and her family.