National Trial Lawyers member Brent Goudarzi of Goudarzi & Young, LLP in Gilmer, Texas reached a $26 million settlement for a client who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in a traffic accident. According to Goudarzi, Jonathan Cunningham, a foreman for Troy Construction, was operating a Chevrolet pickup truck, transporting another Troy Construction employee to a job site. Mr. Cunningham failed to stop at a red light and entered an intersection, traveling 36 mph. In the intersection, he struck a 1993 Nissan pickup operated by 30-year-old house painter, Jose Lara Sanchez. Mr. Lara’s pickup truck was pushed against a light pole and he was ejected.
Mr. Lara was transported by ambulance to a local emergency room, with a Glasgow Coma Score of 3 and from there, airlifted to a second hospital for more comprehensive evaluation and care. CT scan revealed a fracture of the right temporal bone and right-sided epidural hematoma, with underlying subarachnoid hemorrhage. Mr. Lara underwent an emergent right triple craniotomy. Two days later, Mr. Lara underwent endovascular repair of a traumatic transection of the descending thoracic aorta. For the next three weeks, Mr. Lara was weaned off sedation and managed for rib fractures, scapula fracture, left acetabular fracture, bilateral pulmonary contusions and pneumonia. He was discharged to a skilled nursing facility, where he went aggressive physical, occupational and speech therapies for five months before being discharged home to his family. Mr. Lara continued to receive physical and speech therapies through outpatient rehabilitation. Altogether, he incurred $1.3 million in medical expenses.
While the plaintiffs alleged the need for lifetime medical care and the inability to return to any level of employment, the defendants alleged that a short course of appropriate outpatient therapy at an accredited rehabilitation facility would provide Mr. Lara with independence, including the potential to return to driving and return to working. This allegation was supported by surveillance video conducted over the course of multiple days, which showed Mr. Lara walking unassisted and unsupervised outside of his home, engaging in family outings, communicating with neighbors and even assisting with automotive maintenance.
The defendants also claimed contributory negligence on the part of Mr. Lara for the alleged failure to use a seatbelt, which caused his ejection and the right temporal bone fracture, hematoma and hemorrhage and most, if not all, of his residual physical symptoms, which were primarily left-sided (and controlled by the right side of the brain). Had Mr. Lara not been ejected, defendants alleged, he would have sustained no brain injury.