New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association Verdicts and Settlement Report

PO Box 447

Concord, NH  03302-0447


Case Title                       Martel v. Barker                                                              


County                            Merrimack                                                                   


Date of Injury:                 January 7, 2005                                                              


Liability Facts:

This is a civil action arising out of a two-car motor vehicle accident on Route 4 in Chichester, New Hampshire on January 7, 2005.  The plaintiff, Linda Martel, was driving her vehicle eastbound on Route 4 and the defendant, Peter Barker, was driving westbound.  Contrary to the defendant’s duty to maintain a proper lookout and drive in a non-negligent manner in compliance with the New Hampshire Rules of the Road, the defendant fell asleep and negligently crossed the yellow lines into the plaintiff’s eastbound traffic lane and caused a violent head-on collision with the plaintiff’s vehicle. The force of the collision totaled the plaintiff’s car and crushed both of the plaintiff’s lower extremities from her toes to her pelvis.  The plaintiff remained hospitalized for months, requiring multiple surgeries to repair her bones.  Following her hospital discharge, the plaintiff required months of VNAservices and physical therapy to learn to walk again.

Plaintiffs:       1)  Sex  F         Age54  

2)  SexM         Age:54 

Plaintiffs’ Theory of Liability:

The defendant failed to maintain a safe speed, failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to maintain control of the vehicle he was driving, and otherwise negligently operated the vehicle he was driving so that he crossed the yellow line and collided head on with the plaintiff’s vehicle

Defendants’  Theory of Defense:


Initial denial but later admission of negligence, following discovery.



The plaintiff’s lower extremities were essentially crushed by the force of this accident.  The plaintiff suffered severe personal injuries including, but not limited to, significant fractures to most of the major bones in her lower extremities, as well as multiple soft tissue injuries and painful contusions and abrasions.  The plaintiff’s injuries included, but were not limited to, a left femur fracture, left proximal tibia and fibula fractures, left pubic rami fracture, right patella tendon rupture, right calcaneus fracture, right lateral malleolus ankle fracture, right posterior wall acetabular fracture, right transverse process fracture at L5, right proximal fibular fracture, and bilateral multiple complex lacerations of the lower extremities.

The plaintiff also incurred substantial property damage in that the vehicle she was driving was totaled in this violent head-on collision.  The plaintiff’s injuries have required multiple surgeries to repair her shattered lower extremities and the plaintiff has extensive ongoing physical therapy regimens to regain the use of her legs.  The plaintiff suffered extreme post-accident fright while trapped in her car, has suffered and will continue to suffer, severe physical pain and emotional distress, and a loss of enjoyment of life.  The plaintiff lost earnings and earning capacity and incurred substantial medical expenses.

The plaintiff’s longtime husband and companion also suffered a loss of consortium with his wife from her severe injuries sustained in this accident.


Total medical expenses $177,295.06


***All medical expenses were paid by the plaintiff’s Health Insurance Company, CIGNA, who asserted a reimbursement claim for all benefits paid.  Notably, due to the compromised nature of this claim and the limited insurance proceeds available for compensation, we were able to get CIGNA to settle its reimbursement claim for only $15,000.



The parties settled out of court for the $250,000.00 limits of the available insurance policy.


For the Plaintiff:  Mark A. Abramson, Esquire and Holly B. Haines, Esquire