Mediation results in $5 million settlement for driver who sustained burns to 40% of his body in truck crash

in Richmond, when his vehicle collided with a Honda which was also traveling southbound. The defendant tractor veered to the left and crossed the jersey wall separating the north and southbound lanes of the interstate, striking at least three other vehicles, including a 2002 Kia owned and operated by the 49-year-old plaintiff, a retired veteran.

As the accident unfolded, the tractor’s fuel tank became disengaged from the tractor and was propelled to the west side of I-95 at the Chamberlayne Avenue overpass. There was an explosion, and the plaintiff’s vehicle caught fire while he was still inside it. The plaintiff was taken to the burn unit at VCU Medical Center where he remained in intensive care for several weeks.

He was treated with airway management with a ventilator, fluid management, painful wound care and dressing changes, as well as operative debridement and skin grafts. He was also treated for a blood clot in his right leg. A speech therapist worked with the plaintiff when he developed swallowing and speech deficits due to the endotracheal tube which had been inserted into his airway. Given the level of his pain, the plaintiff was kept in a sedated “coma” for the first two weeks of his hospital stay.

At the end of July, the plaintiff was transferred to the VCU Medical Center rehabilitation unit where he underwent physical and occupational therapy for his decreased endurance and restricted range of motion due to the development of scar tissue around some of his joints. Once discharged from the rehabilitation unit, the plaintiff continued his slow recovery, suffering blisters of the healed burns in the areas of ungrafted skin as well as contractures of the skin in the axillary area, the left inner part of the elbow, and the left flank.

The plaintiff’s functional activity level remained limited for many months, and he continued to need help with certain activities of daily living and ongoing physical and occupational therapy. He has been left with disfiguring permanent scars on his back, chest, buttocks, thighs and ear. Plaintiff’s medical expenses to the date of settlement were $671,219.13. His physicians anticipate that he will undergo one additional surgical procedure designed to free adhesions in his arm. The projected cost of this operation is approximately $20,000. After mediation, the case settled for $5,000,000.

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