Name of Case/County: Anonymous – Cheshire Count
This case arises from a high impact, head-on collision in Winchendon, Massachusetts in June 2009, which resulted in permanent personal injuries and death to four generations of women from the same family. The four plaintiffs included an 82-year old great-grandmother, a 62-year old grandmother, a 44-year old mother, and her 12-year old daughter, who were riding in a minivan in a southerly direction on Route 12 in Winchendon, Massachusetts for a “girls day out,” with plans to have lunch and ice cream.
The 62-year old grandmother was the driver of the minivan and was properly traveling south on Route 12 in Winchendon when a northbound driver crossed the double yellow lines and crashed into the minivan head on. The force of the collision was so great that it totaled the minivan. The plaintiff driver was trapped in the vehicle, pinned by the dashboard with the steering wheel embedded in her chest and abdomen. She had to be extricated from the demolished minivan with the jaws of life to receive emergency medical care, as did her 82-year old mother and 44-year old daughter. The minor plaintiff was able to escape from the vehicle and watched from the side of the roadway as her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were extricated from the vehicle with the jaws of life. Police, fire and five ambulances responded to the scene to emergently take the injured victims to the hospital.
The 82-year old great grandmother suffered severe blunt force trauma to her face, chest, abdomen and pelvis, breaking 15 ribs, lacerating and rupturing her spleen, fracturing her wrist and hip. She died as a result of the injuries she sustained in the collision.
The 62-year old grandmother broke three of four extremities, suffering fractures to her left pelvis, her left hip, her right leg and her right wrist. She underwent three major surgeries to reconstruct her pelvis, her right leg and her right wrist. She was hospitalized at a trauma center for more than three weeks and discharged to a skilled nursing facility for three months where she was confined to bed, unable to use three of four extremities. She suffered extreme emotional distress from watching her mother, daughter and granddaughter get injured in this accident and even more so because she was unable to attend her mother’s funeral due to her immobilization.
The 44-year old mother, who was only three weeks out from undergoing a hysterectomy, suffered tremendous blunt force trauma to her chest and abdomen with internal hemorrhage, a fractured sternum, a fractured rib, bilateral pulmonary contusions, a head injury and severe intestinal injury resulting in removal of 14 inches of her small bowel and 10 inches of her sigmoid colon, with colostomy placement. She was hospitalized for more than a week, and in the following two years she has required six additional invasive surgeries to revise the colostomy, to resect another 9 inches of her colon, to treat two bowel obstructions and two hernia repairs. She will have to deal with the sequelae from these surgeries for the remainder of her life. She also suffered severe emotional distress from watching the injuries to her mother, daughter and grandmother.
The 12-year old minor plaintiff suffered neck, back, chest and abdominal injuries, with internal bleeding. She underwent emergent laparotomy with small bowel resection and repair of the three serosal tears. She remained hospitalized for more than a week and she is permanently disfigured by a 9″ scar on her abdomen. The minor plaintiff also suffered severe emotional distress from watching as her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were extricated from the demolished minivan with the jaws of life and received emergency medical care. She has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Since this collision she has suffered from horrific flashbacks, panic attacks, periods of insomnia and periods of excess sleep, loss of appetite, nightmares, hallucinations, agitation, irritability, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and chronic headaches. She is expected require psychotherapy for the remainder of her life.
Combined, the four plaintiffs incurred more than $640,000.00 in medical bills.
The plaintiffs settled their claims out of court for the $300,000 liability limits of the defendant driver’s policy. Because these limits were insufficient to compensate the four victims for their individual injuries, they were independently apportioned to provide equal recoveries to the living plaintiffs and a lower recovery to the decedent plaintiff.
All of the three living plaintiffs had underinsured motorist claims under at least two insurance policies, which were able to be stacked to receive the maximum benefit available to each plaintiff. The total settlement for the three living plaintiffs was $1,710,000.00.
Holly B. Haines, Esq.
Abramson, Brown & Dugan, PA
1819 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03104
Defense Counsel (please include name and firm):
Doreen Connor, Esq. (Liability only)
Primmer, Piper Eggleston & Cramer, PC
900 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03101
Insurance Carrier (if relevant):
State Farm (Liability)
State Farm (Underinsured)
Date of Injury: 2009
Date of Verdict or Settlement: 2012