$24 Million Car Accident Settlement Against “Good Samaritan” Driver
Gregg Hollander | October 11, 2016 | Car Accidents
Three years ago, Rebecca Forkey was a 24-year-old woman heading to the gym, training for a bodybuilding competition. Little did she know, her physical fitness is likely what kept her alive in a car accident that would have killed most people, her doctors now say.
The Missouri woman is now quadriplegic. She hopes one day to regain some use of her hands and arms. Her physical therapy is intensive, and while she makes strides, she’s likely to remain permanently disabled the rest of her life.
Now 27, the East Bay Times reported she just secured a $24 million settlement against the employer of the so-called “Good Samaritan” who nearly killed her while trying to do the right thing.
Cases like this can be complicated because there may be numerous individuals and entities that could be legally responsible for one’s injuries, and plaintiffs may explore numerous avenues to secure compensation. In this case, there were two negligent drivers. Because one of those drivers was on-the-job at the time of the crash, plaintiff could pursue a claim of vicarious liability against that company, as employers can be held to account for the wrongful actions of workers acting in the course and scope of employment.
The somewhat unusual circumstances of this traffic accident occurred in Missouri, while the three vehicles involved were traveling on the interstate. The driver of an Acrua sport utility vehicle was on-the-clock for his employer – a car dealership – when he spotted a driver behaving erratically, swerving in and out of traffic and posing a danger to other motorists. The car dealership employee called 911. He relayed his observations to the emergency dispatcher, who implored him not to follow the impaired driver. He did not heed this warning, and instead shadowed the driver for more than three minutes, while remaining on his cell phone.
Suddenly and for reasons that aren’t entirely certain, the suspected impaired driver, operating a Toyota Highlander, veered toward the Acura. That prompted the car dealership employee to swerve to the right. As he did so, he forced Forkey’s Jeep from the roadway. The Jeep rolled a total of six times and ultimately landed upside down back on the highway.
This could have been avoided, Forkey’s injury lawyer says. The dispatcher clearly on that recording told him not to follow the impaired driver and not to get too close. As it turned out, the driver was impaired, albeit by prescription drugs. She was later charged and convicted of felony DUI and reckless driving resulting in great bodily injury. Although the Acura driver wasn’t criminally charged, his dealership was held liable for his negligent action behind the wheel that night.
Meanwhile, Forkey was in awful shape. She was hospitalized for two months with a spinal cord injury, cracked vertebra, punctured lungs, broken jaw and a crushed diaphragm. Initially, pressure on her skull required her to undergo numerous brain surgeries. She’s had several more since, including one to fuse four vertebrae in her neck. She’ll likely need more. She uses a wheelchair. She has not yet been able to return to work as a medical esthetician and skin care specialist, though she hopes to return in some capacity at some point. She also won’t be able to be the body builder she once dreamed she’d be. She now says all that time she was training, it turned out she was training to survive.
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‘Good Samaritan gone wrong’: Walnut Creek woman has message for those trying to do right, Sept. 12, 2016, By Sam Richards, East Bay Times