Over the last few decades, the tort reform lobbyists representing the interests of big businesses and insurance companies have done an excellent job convincing the American public that plaintiffs in personal injury cases are greedy.
They have promoted the disparaging comments made when someone secures a six-figure settlement against a large restaurant chain or wins millions of dollars in a jury trial against an auto insurer.
But it’s important to remember that these cases are rarely windfalls for the victims. Many of them have endured unimaginable pain and devastation, emotional trauma, grueling recoveries and effects on their relationships, livelihoods and enjoyment of life that can never be reversed. Some never fully recover at all.
The painful journey of one Fort Lauderdale car accident victim was recently chronicled in The Sun-Sentinel. Prior to the accident, the 56-year-old woman worked as a recreational therapist, spending decades working with patients who suffered physical limitations and disabilities.
Now, a horrific crash, caused by a suspected drunk driver who was allegedly traveling 80 mph in a 45 mph zone and texting, has put her in her patients’ shoes. After 375 days in the hospital, Kim Smith wheeled herself out the front doors. She’ll never walk again.
Her outlook on the situation is still brighter than most. She said her years spent working closely with people confined to wheelchairs – knowing well the unique challenges and possibilities – “has really prepared me for what I’m facing now, “she told a reporter.
Meanwhile, the 30-year-old suspected drunk driver, Michael Anguille, 30, of Boca Raton, has been held without bond in the case, facing numerous DUI-related charges, the Sentinel reports.
Smith said she tries not to think of the activities in which she can no longer participate: Hiking, canoeing and camping. Instead, she focuses on the fact that she recently was able to transfer herself from the bed to the wheelchair by herself. That move was key to being able to once again live independently. Her next biggest challenge is to get into the pool with her young grandson. Smith said she is thankful he wasn’t with her the night of the accident. The sheer force of the cars colliding caused the child’s car seat to break in three different places.
But she is still in enormous pain. Prior to her discharge, surgeons implanted a pain pump device that releases regular medication to reduce her horrible, crippling spasms. Sometimes, they are so bad, she has no choice but to stop whatever she is doing until it stops on its own. Something as simple as rolling over a bump in a doorway could trigger an episode.
She has had to endure months of physical therapy. She was worked to strengthen her core and her arms, which her physical therapist noted will now serve as “her legs.”
These are the kinds of victim who generally receive substantial settlements and legal victories from insurance companies, bars, vehicle owners and other liable entities. The reality is a large part of the compensation received goes toward coverage of medical expenses. In cases like these, the need for care will be extensive and lifelong.
Although Smith describes this next phase of life as a “new opportunity” from God, it will certainly not be without its challenges. And all of it comes through no fault of her own. Cases like this are the reason why the tort system exists. Those who have suffered such enormous hardship should not have to bear the resulting financial burdens of it all too.
Our dedicated Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for you.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
A year later, woman paralyzed in crash with DUI driver leaves hospital, Oct. 12, 2015, By Erika Pesantes, Sun-Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Nissan Motor Co. v. Maddox – Seat Belt Fails to Protect Larger Passenger, Oct. 11, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorney Blog