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Belton Auto Accident Attorney – How Personal Injury Testimony is Analyzed by Insurance Companies – Exemplar Letter

Belton personal injury attorneys will find the following document of assistance in preparing lawsuit strategies for Cass County auto accident lawsuits.  Names and identifying information have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of those mentioned.

Belton auto accident analysis by lawyers will benefit from learning the investigation, analysis and strategies employed by insurance companies.

March 2, 2011

VIA INTERNET E-MAIL AND U.S. MAIL

Keith E. Lees

Litigation Claim Representative

CASS COUNTY INSURANCE GROUP

Harrisonville Personal Lines

P.O. Box 68451

Belton, Missouri 65201

Keith.Lees@thebeltoninsurer.com

Re:     Case Style:  West, Michelle v. Ratcliffe, Theodora

Circuit Court of Cass County, Missouri at Harrisonville

Case No.:     00-CV-220007,.

Claim No.:   543 AL 54777

Our File:      06235-27526

Dear Mr. Lees:

Our Belton personal injury lawyer had an opportunity to take the deposition of Plaintiff Michelle West in the above-referenced Belton auto accident.  Also, plaintiff’s Lee’s Summit auto accident lawyer has taken the deposition of Defendant Theadora Ratcliffe.  This correspondence sets out a summary and our analysis of their depositions for your review.

MICHELLE WEST

Belton Auto Accident Personal Injury Plaintiff

Michelle West is a slightly overweight fifty year old single woman.  She comes across as honest, forthright and generally pleasant.   She will make an average witness before a Cass County Circuit Court jury.

Ms. West lives in Belton, Missouri.  She was a postal employee delivering the mail and a construction worker operating machines outdoors for many years. Presently, she works at Answer, an answering service located in Raymore, Missouri.  Plaintiff has a history of depression but testified that she has not been depressed for approximately one year and has not needed her anti-depressant medication.  She denies ever having back pain or other significant medical problems before the Belton auto accident in this case.

Ms. West claims that on March 18, 2009, she was attending a wake for a friend at Carson Funeral Home in Belton, Missouri.  After the wake, Ms. West was exiting the funeral home with Norma Beck, Lana Pratt, Sandy Leroy and Barbara Crown.  She remembers crossing the parking lot and hearing her friend, Sandy Leroy, screaming “look out.”  When Ms. West looked, she saw Ms. Ratcliffe’s automobile just a few feet from her.  Ms. West tried to avoid the automobile, was unable to do so and was struck by its back passenger side bumper.  She could not estimate the automobile’s speed.  The contact knocked her off the ground and back onto the asphalt parking lot.  At first, Ms. West thought that she had not received personal injury.  However, she quickly discovered that she was unable to get up.  She does not remember experiencing pain at the time.  Ms. West remembers one of her friends holding her head and praying for her until the ambulance arrived.

At Belton Research hospital, Ms. West was treated for a lower back injury, a broken front tooth, a deep 2.5 centimeter cut to her chin and a substantial skin wound to her face.  While at the Belton hospital, the plaintiff remembers experiencing generalized pain in her mouth, face, legs, knees, pelvis, neck, lower back and foot.  Ms. West stated that she had scabbing over a large potion of her face during her stay at the Belton hospital.  She believes that her physicians failed to diagnose her facial tattooing during her hospital stay because of the scabs that covered the tattooed area.  During her stay at Belton hospital, the plaintiff stated she had trouble moving her mouth and jaw to the extent that a dentist had to adjust it.  The dentist also repaired her broken front tooth.  After seven days at the hospital, she was released to go home.

Ms. West walked with the use of a walker for two months after her release from the hospital because of the pain in her knees and lower back.  She had friends come over to help her cook and clean during that time because of her limited ability to move.  Thereafter, the Belton auto accident victim walked with a cane for approximately four months.  When the plaintiff began using a cane to walk, she returned to work.  She switched to the night shift at Answer so that she could take more breaks because of fatigue.  The plaintiff did not experience a change in her rate of pay as a result of this change in working shifts. She claims to have lost nearly eight weeks of work because of personal injury from the Belton auto accident.

Plaintiff claims and appears to have facial tattooing on her left check just above her mouth.  To reduce the tattooing, she has had several hydroquinone treatments to bleach her skin.  She claims her doctors recommend that she undergo laser facial surgery, which will treat her facial tattooing as it stands.

Plaintiff claims that she needs to attend physical therapy every few months to keep her body from experiencing pain in her lower back.  Ms. West testified that she has little or no remaining nerve damage to her face.  She claims that the affected area of her cheek only “feels funny.”

THEADORA RATCLIFFE

Belton Auto Accident Personal Injury Defendant

Theadora Ratcliffe is a 78 year old woman of average build and appearance.  She comes across as pleasant, honest and forthright.  She can, however, be defensive at times and needs to be reminded to remain calm.  She will make an average witness before a Cass County Circuit Court jury.

Ms. Ratcliffe lives by herself at her home in Belton, Missouri.  She does not know the plaintiff. On March 18, 2009, she attended the wake of her sister-in-law Kathleen Pihr.  Ms. Ratcliffe parallel parked her 1999 Lincoln Continental on the street right next to the entrance to the parking lot of the funeral home.  (Exhibit “1,” attached hereto).  The wake ended at approximately 7:30 p.m.. Ms. Ratcliffe walked to her car alone and waited to give her daughter a ride to Ms. Ratcliffe’s home.

After waiting a short amount of time, Ms. Ratcliffe attempted to back her car into the parking lot to pick up her daughter.  She got in her car, started the engine and looked back to see if anyone was behind her.  Seeing no one, she backed the car into the parking lot to take the car to where her daughter was located.  At this point, Ms. Ratcliffe remembers that the car’s motor started racing and began to move at an even speed backwards.  She estimates the car’s speed at five miles per hour.  She repeatedly tried to apply the brakes; however, the automobile did not stop until it caused the auto accident with the corner wall of Carson Funeral Home.  She did not realize that her automobile had contacted the plaintiff.

Neither Belton Municipal Court nor the Cass County Sheriff’s Department issued Ms. Ratcliffe a traffic ticket for this Belton auto accident, in spite of the personal injury.  Therefore, no Belton criminal defense lawyer was retained.

Ms. Ratcliffe saw the plaintiff lying on the pavement to the side of where her car had passed when she got out of her car.  She stated “I was just beside myself,” meaning that she was shocked and worried, when she saw the plaintiff.  Ms. Ratcliffe stated she began shaking and “couldn’t hardly talk” because she was worrying about the condition of the plaintiff.  Ms. Ratcliffe received a small bump on her head from hitting the steering wheel when her car had its auto accident with the funeral home.  She requested no personal injury or medical treatment.  Ms. Ratcliffe regularly checked on the plaintiff’s condition while the plaintiff was in the hospital.  Upon advice from her family, she never personally contacted the plaintiff.

FURTHER HANDLING

OF THIS BELTON AUTO ACCIDENT

PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM

The plaintiff presently claims past medical expenses of $19,846.98.  The medical expenses arise from her stay at Belton Research Hospital, her physical therapy, cosmetic treatment for her facial tattooing, dental care, ambulance service, repairs to her eyeglasses, and a small amount of pain medication.  She claims $4,025.00 in future medical expenses for cosmetic surgery to treat her claimed facial tattooing.  She claims $2,410.89 for the seven weeks of work she allegedly missed. Her total special damages amount to $26,282.87.  This amount does not include any personal injury damages she may receive for her pain and suffering, future physical therapy, any lingering discoloration to her face or the alleged nerve damage to her left cheek.

Our Lee’s Summit auto accident lawyer took her deposition.  When the plaintiff testified in her deposition, she did not give the impression that she was exaggerating her personal injury medical claims.  The facial tattooing was visible at a distance.  It is also appears that she has nerve damage to the left portion of her face.  Specifically, it appears as though the left corner of her mouth and that area of her cheek hang slightly lower and do not react to her facial movements as the right side of her face does.

The medical review completed for us by Doctor Benson indicates that the auto accident personal injury to her lower back is more of a degenerative long term condition as opposed to a traumatic injury caused only by the car accident in this case.  However, there is no evidence as the present time indicating that Ms. West had trouble with her back before this Belton auto accident.  The condition in her lower back may simply be a long term degenerative condition that showed its symptoms only after the plaintiff was struck by our client.  Overall, the plaintiff will likely make a sympathetic and believable witness to a Cass County Circuit Court jury.  With the special damages she claims, which appear to be for the most part reasonable for the personal injuries, the verdict range could easily be in the $50,000.00 to $75,000.00 range.  While we could attack the claimed need for laser surgery on the basis of the lack of notation of facial tattooing in her medical records while in the hospital, her explanation seems logical.  Regardless, even if you eliminate the future charge for that future procedure, she still has specials of about $22,000.00.  This being a liability case, I suggest we begin negotiations and try to save something off of your limits.

As always, we will continue to keep you advised of significant events as they occur.  If you have any questions or if we can help in any manner, please feel free to contact our offices.

Very truly yours,

Matt Hamilton, Belton personal injury lawyer

matthamilton@law-kc.com

Enclosure

MJH/ # 735659

Cass County & Johnson County Auto Accidents l Leave A Comment

Belton Driving While Intoxicated Criminal Defense – Cass County Auto Accident Personal Injury – Can the Debt be discharged in Bankruptcy?

Cass County, Missouri criminal defense attorneys will find the following Memorandum beneficial should similar issues arise in their criminal defense practice.  This Memo is posted with permission of the participants for that purpose.  The names of the parties have been changed for privacy purposes.

Belton auto accident attorneys and victims should contact our Cass County personal injury attorneys at our Pleasant Hill law firm (816) 540-4040 with specific questions regarding their case as different answers will result with different case facts.

Our Cass County criminal defense attorneys should be contacted for anyone with a case in Belton Municipal Court of Cass County Circuit Court as the law regarding their case may differ.

Memo

To: Mark Holrom

From: Matt Hamilton, Belton criminal defense attorney discussing Cass County Circuit Court matters

Subject: Belton Price Chopper et al. v. Mitchell — viability of having the debts rendered non-dischargeable because of Ms. Mitchell’s driving while intoxicated (DWI) condition during the Belton auto accident that caused personal injury.

Date: July 29, 2008

______________________________________________________________________________

Issue:

1.     Can Ms. Mitchell’s debts be rendered non-dischargeable because she operated her automobile driving while intoxicated, with a B.A.C. in Belton measured at .088, one and one-half hours after the Belton auto accident?

2.     Can Belton Price Chopper’s property damage claim be included as non-dischargeable because Ms. Mitchell was driving while intoxicated (DWI) – alcohol?

3.     Are we required to specifically plead which section of § 523 we wish to have Ms. Mitchell’s debt rendered non-dischargeable under?

4.     Are other exceptions to discharge available besides the “driving under the influence” (DUI) in Cass County, MO exception?

Conclusion:

1.     Yes, § 523 of the code renders debts non-dischargeable if incurred as the result of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol under Missouri law and the bankruptcy court can determine Ms. Mitchell as having driven under the influence (DUI) in Belton, Cass County under Missouri law.

2.     No, property damage claims are not allowed under § 523 (a)(9); however, property damage claims are non-dischargeable under other portions of § 523.

3.     Yes, the Bankruptcy Code requires that a litigant 1) plead which section of § 523 that the debt is non-dischargeable under and 2) the material facts supporting the claim.

4.     Yes, the defendant can argue that Ms. Mitchell’s actions were willful and malicious conduct under § 523 (a)(6) even though success under this section is highly improbable.

Analysis:

I. It is likely that the plaintiff will be able to render Ms. Mitchell’s debt for the damages to Mr. and Mrs. Dixon non-dischargeable under § 523 of the Bankruptcy Code. The Bankruptcy Code does not discharge debts that are incurred as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol. Driving under the influence of alcohol is determined by the law of the state in which the debt was incurred. Ms. Mitchell’s debt to the plaintiff’s arose in Belton, Cass County Missouri and Ms. Mitchell can be found guilty under Missouri state law in Cass County Circuit Court at Harrisonville. Further, it is not necessary for the Debtor to actually have been found guilty by Missouri. The bankruptcy court will apply state law to make an independent determination regarding whether the Debtor was driving under the influence (DUI) in Belton irrespective of what the Circuit Court of Cass County, Missouri at Harrisonville determines.

Discharge for driving while intoxicated (DWI) is determined by Title 11 U.S.C. § 523 (a)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code. It provides in pertinent part that “a discharge under § 727 of the bankruptcy code does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt … (9) for death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle if such operation was unlawful because the debtor was driving while intoxicated from using alcohol, a drug, or another substance.” Id.

Driving while intoxicated in Belton or Cass County for purposes of § 523 is determined by looking to the law of the state where the event occurred. Commercial Union Insurance Company v. Christiansen (In re Christiansen), 80 B.R. 481, 482 (Bankr. W.D. Mo. 1987). Bankruptcy courts establish driving while intoxicated (DWI) by a preponderance of the evidence standard. Willison v. Race, 198 B.R. 740, 762 (Bankr. W.D. Mo. 1996); Simpson v. Phalen, 145 B.R. 551, 554 (Bankr. N.D. Oh. 1992). Missouri law states that “a person commits the crime of ‘driving while intoxicated’ if he operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated (driving while intoxicated – DWI) or drugged condition.” RSMo § 577.010.1 (1986). “[A] person is in an ‘intoxicated condition’ in Belton when he is driving under the influence (DUI) [sic][of] alcohol, a controlled substance, or drug, or any combination thereof.” RSMo § 577.001.2 (1986).

Driving under the influence (DUI) in Belton or Cass County can be shown in two ways. First, it can be established through scientific tests, such as the Intoxilyzer 5000, that measure the amount of alcohol in the blood. Second, driving under the influence (DUI) in Belton or Cass County can be established through circumstantial evidence, such as physical observations of witnesses. If an Intoxilyzer test does not conclusively establish alcohol content over the necessary eight hundredths of one percent, the second method can be employed. Specifically, Missouri law as applied in Cass County Circuit Court states that:

[a]ny charge alleging a violation of Section 577.010 … shall be dismissed with prejudice if a chemical analysis … demonstrate[s] that there was less than eight-hundredths of one percent of alcohol in the defendant’s blood unless…

(2) There is evidence that the defendant was driving under the influence of a controlled substance, or drug, or a combination of either or both with or without alcohol; or

(3) There is substantial evidence of driving while intoxicated from physical observations of witnesses or admission of the defendant.

Section 577.037.5, RSMo (1986).

Thus, a test showing a blood alcohol content over .08 is not indispensable to a conviction of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Belton Municipal Court or the Circuit Court of Cass County at Harrisonville, Missouri.

Missouri courts such as the Circuit Court of Cass County have established the level that a person must be driving under the influence (DUI) by alcohol to sustain a conviction under Missouri law either in Belton Municipal Court or Cass County Circuit Court. Belton criminal defense attorneys and Cass County criminal defense lawyers apply this standard.  This is also applied in the same manner by Lee’s Summit criminal defense attorneys.  On several occasions, the Missouri Supreme Court has summarized the necessary evidence to establish driving under the influence. The Court states that:

Any intoxication that in any manner impairs the ability of a person to operate an automobile is sufficient to sustain a conviction…. A jury would readily understand that what is meant by an ‘intoxicated condition’ in connection with a charge of this nature is drunkenness to such an extent that it interferes with the proper operation of an automobile by the defendant.

State v. Raines, 62 S.W.2d 727, 729 (Mo. 1933)(emphasis added); accord State v. Cox, 478 S.W.2d 339, 341-42 (Mo. 1972).

Thus, a person can be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Belton Municipal Court or Cass County Circuit Court when their alcohol consumption interferes with the proper operation of their vehicle as determined by the trier of fact.

Tests showing alcohol in a defendant’s blood can be combined with testimony of impaired abilities by intoxicants. Evidence that a person had intoxicants in their system coupled with eye witness testimony that the person was affected by an intoxicant has established convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Belton Municipal Court or Cass County Circuit Court. State v. Falcone, 918 S.W.2d 288, 292 (Mo.App. 1996). Also, convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) have been affirmed where defendants have measurable amounts of alcohol in their system and police officer’s observe the defendant affected by the use of alcohol. State v. Meanor, 863 S.W.2d 884, 891 (Mo. 1993). Thus, the presence of alcohol in the blood coupled with testimony of intoxication by a witness is sufficient to convict one of driving under the influence (DUI) in Belton Municipal Court or Cass County Circuit Court under Missouri law.

Once driving under the influence (DUI) is established by the Belton Municipal Court Judge or the Cass County Circuit Court Judge, an additional element is required to have the debt rendered non-dischargeable. In 1987, the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri stated that courts must also determine whether the debtor’s intoxication was a causal factor in the accident to determine non-dischargeability under § 523 (a)(9). Christianson, 80 B.R. at 484. Thus, a connection between the accident and the Debtor’s intoxicated condition is required to establish a debts nondischargeability.1

It is likely that applying the foregoing analysis in the instant case would render the debts in this adversary action nondischargeable. First, Belton police records and Belton police testimony establish that Ms. Mitchell had a moderate odor of alcohol about her, had watery, glassy, bloodshot eyes, failed to simultaneously keep her eyes closed and touch the tip of her nose just after the Belton auto accident, and admitted that she had consumed “cough syrup” before the Belton automobile accident. (See Alcohol Influence Report). This case can be analogized to Meanor where the defendant smelled of alcohol, displayed slurred speech, was impaired according to police testimony, tested a B.A.C. of .02 but was nevertheless convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI). Meanor, 863 S.W.2d at 887. This evidence can also be analogized to Falcone, where the defendant failed some but not all field sobriety tests, admitted to taking Lorazepam,2 did not test for alcohol in her system, but was nevertheless convicted for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Falcone, 918 S.W.2d at 293; See also State v. Friend, 943 S.W.2d 800, 802 (Mo.App. W.D. 1997)(convicting for driving under the influence (DUI) of methamphetamine by showing signs of impaired abilities but not testing for alcohol consumption). Thus, the evidence of impairment in this case is similar to evidence of impairment in other cases where defendants have been convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI).3

The eye-witness evidence of impairment is supported by the blood alcohol content of Ms. Mitchell’s blood. One and one-half hours after the Belton automobile accident, Ms. Mitchell tested a B.A.C. of .088. (See Alcohol Influence Report). First, it must be remembered that the test was unreliable in measuring Ms. Mitchell’s B.A.C. at the time of the accident due to the lapse of time. See RSMo § 577.037.5 (1)(considering tests as unreliable when taken after an excessive amount of time has elapsed).4 Despite this deficit, the evidence will support intoxication for non-dischargeability reasons. In Meanor, the defendant’s B.A.C. of .025 was combined with the evidence of impairment to sustain the conviction of driving while intoxicated (DWI). Meanor, 863 S.W.2d at 887. Here, too, evidence of Ms. Mitchell’s B.A.C. of .088 can be combined with evidence of her impairment to convince the Bankruptcy Court that she was driving while intoxicated in Belton. Thus, Ms. Mitchell’s B.A.C. will support the argument that she was driving while intoxicated in Cass County, Missouri.

Finally, it can be established that Ms. Mitchell’s driving under the influence (DUI) in Belton was a causal factor in the Cass County personal injury auto accident. There is testimony available from the police that the two reasons the Belton auto accident occurred where because of driving “too fast” and “drinking.” (See Missouri Uniform Accident Report at 3). This testimony can satisfy the requirement that the driving while intoxicated was a causal factor in the Cass County auto accident.

In conclusion, it is likely that the personal injury auto accident damages arising from the bodily injuries of Mr. Dixon will be non-dischargeable under § 523(a)(9). Evidence of Ms. Mitchell’s impaired condition combined with the evidence of alcohol in her system can establish “intoxication” under Missouri law. Also, the Belton Police Department auto accident report can establish that a causal factor in the automobile accident was Ms. Mitchell’s driving while intoxicated (DWI). Thus, the bankruptcy Court can conclude that Ms. Mitchell was driving while intoxicated in Belton under Missouri law and her debts arising from that condition are non-dischargeable under § 523.

II. It is unlikely that the Dixons or Belton Price Chopper will be able to recover property damages from Ms. Mitchell because the drunk driving exception to discharge under Chapter 7 only renders damages from personal injury or wrongful death non-dischargeable. The driving while intoxicated (DWI) exception to discharge states that “a discharge under § 727 of the bankruptcy code does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt … (9) for death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle if such operation was unlawful because the debtor was driving while intoxicated from using alcohol, a drug, or another substance.” 11 U.S.C. § 523 (a)(9)(emphasis added). No mention is made of punitive damages or property damages in this section of the Code. Id. Cases in the Western District of Missouri have held that property damages and punitive damages are non-recoverable under § 523 (a)(9). In re Higgins, 161 B.R. 993, 996 (Bankr. W.D. Mo. 1993). There is no apparent case law allowing property or punitive damages under the driving under the influence (DUI) exception to discharge. Further, corporations with damages, such as Belton Price Chopper, have added troubles under § 523 (a)(9). This is because “only individuals can bring a cause of action for personal injury [under § 523(a)(9)].” Id. Thus, damages from personal injury and wrongful death are unavailable under the driving while intoxicated (DWI) exception to discharge under Chapter 7.

Note that punitive and property damages are available for other non-dischargeable debts. For example, property damages are available for fraud under § 523(a)(2), defalcation in a fiduciary capacity under § 523(a)(4), and willful and malicious injury under § 523 (a)(6).6 11 U.S.C. § 523.

III. Bankruptcy law dictates that a litigant plead the specific section of § 523 and the underlying facts supporting the cause of action that is the objection to the dischargeability of the debt. However, complaints under § 523 (a)(9) are not required to be plead with particulary. The Bankruptcy Code applies Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” FED. R. BANKR. P. 7010. Rule 12 states that “[i]f a pleading to which a responsive pleading is permitted is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading, the party may move for a more definite statement before interposing a responsive pleading. FED. R. CIV. P. 12. If a more definite statement is required, it is within the sound discretion of the Bankruptcy Court to allow the plaintiff to amend the pleading. In re Universal Foundry Co., 163 B.R. 528, affirmed 30 F.3d 137 (Bankr. E.D. Wis. 1993). Despite the requirements to include information in pleadings, this information does not include specific evidence. Only fraud claims need to be pled with particularity. See, e.g., In re Volpert, 175 B.R. 247 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 1994). Thus, complaints to object to the dischargeability of debts must be specific enough to allow the opposing party to reasonably respond but need not be plead in particularity.

A complaint to determine a debt’s discharge is sufficiently specific when it specifically alleges actions that warrant denial of discharge and the resulting injury to the creditor. In re Kelpe, 98 B.R. 479 (Bankr. W.D. Mo. 1989). Conversely, complaints objecting to the discharge of debts are insufficiently particular if they fail to identify either the specific subsection of § 523 or underlying facts supporting such grounds. In re Smith, 82 B.R. 113 (Bankr. D. Ark. 1988). Further, tracking the statutory language but failing to state the material facts supporting the claim for discharge amounts to a failure to state a claim for discharge. In re Burrow, 131 B.R. 113 (Bankr. E.D. Ark. 1991). Thus, complaints objecting to the discharge of debts must both state the specific sections of § 523 and allege the material facts supporting the claim.

Note that it is unlikely that a substantial advantage will accrue if an ambiguous complaint is submitted. The Debtor has already sent correspondence to this firm regarding the applicability of § 523 (a)(9) to this action. See Belton Price Chopper v. Mitchell Correspondence file. In addition, Amy Short questioned the debtor regarding the Debtors driving while intoxicated (DWI) during the Belton auto accident at the initial meeting of the creditors on May 18th. See Letter from Amy Short to Roger Ang of Federal Ins. Co. (May 22, 2008). Consequently, any element of surprise is absent. Further, it is unlikely that other sections of § 523 can be used to render Ms. Mitchell’s debt non-dischargeable under § 523. See infra issue IV. At 9 (exploring the viability of driving under the influence (DUI) in Belton Cass County, Missouri as willful and malicious conduct under § 523). Finally, a risk is present that an ambiguous complaint will annoy the bankruptcy judge. Thus, it is unlikely that a substantial advantage will be gained if the Complaint to Object to the Dischargeability of the Debt does not state what portion of § 523 is to be applied.

IV. It can be argued that Ms. Mitchell’s actions were willful and malicious when she chose to engage in driving while intoxicated in Belton before traveling to work and traveled too fast on icy roads. However, it is highly improbable that this argument will elicit success. Section 6 of 11 U.S.C. § 523 states that bankruptcy does “not discharge an individual debtor from any debt… (6) for willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity….” 11 U.S.C. § 523 (a)(6). Before the driving while intoxicated (DWI) exception was added to the Code, driving under the influence (DUI) cases were successfully objected to as willful and malicious actions. See, e.g., In re Callaway, 41 B.R. 341, 346 (E.D. Pa. 1984)(stating that the voluntary acts of drinking and then driving while intoxicated are sufficiently intentional and deliberate to render drunk-driving liability non-dischargeable).7 Thus, the willful and malicious conduct exception to discharge has been used in driving under the influence (DUI) criminal defense cases.

It can be proposed that this logic should be revived and applied to the instant case. The argument progresses as follows. First, Ms. Mitchell admits to willfully consuming intoxicants on the morning of the Belton auto accident in Cass County, Missouri. (See Missouri Uniform Accident Report at 3). Second, Ms. Mitchell displayed malicious conduct when she purposefully drove on icy roads knowing that she had consumed a substantial amount of intoxicants. Id. Further, Ms. Mitchell knowingly drove the motor vehicle at excessive speeds for the conditions of the road at that time. Id. Thus, it can be argued that Ms. Mitchell acted willfully and maliciously pursuant to the collision on January 25, 2006.

It is highly improbable that this argument will be successful. First, prior to the enactment of the driving under the influence (DUI) exception to discharge, the Western District of Missouri did not recognize driving while intoxicated (DWI) as willful and malicious conduct. See In re Bellmer, Civil Action No. 79-6042-CV-SJ (Bankr. W.D. Mo. 1980)(explicitly rejecting that reckless disregard of the rights of another, without more, can suffice as proof of willfulness or malice in a drunk driving case). Second, the enactment of the drunk driving exception supercedes the line of cases that find driving while intoxicated (DWI) as willful and malicious. 11 U.S.C. § 523 (a)(9). Thus, it is inconsistent to argue that Congress intended drunk-driving to both be explicitly non-dischargeable in § 523 (a)(9) and implicitly non-dischargeable in § 523(a)(6). Third, the Western District of Missouri and the Eighth Circuit have explicitly rejected the argument that drunk driving, in itself, is willful and malicious conduct. Cassidy v. Minihan, 794 F.2d 340, 343 (8th Cir. 1986). Thus, there is a substantial body of applicable law rejecting the argument that Ms. Mitchell’s drunk driving was non-dischargeable under the willful and malicious exception to 11 U.S.C. § 523.

In summary, a good faith argument is available to reverse the law of the eighth circuit and include driving under the influence (DUI) in Belton, Cass County, Missouri as willful and malicious conduct. However, this reversal is unlikely because of the precedent established and followed in this circuit. A Cass County criminal defense attorney or a Belton auto accident lawyer advocating this argument faces opposing arguments that it is against the will of Congress, contrary to the clear statutory language of § 523, contrary to the case law in the district and circuit courts, and has never been adopted by this district at any date. Thus, it is highly improbable that Ms. Mitchell’s driving under the influence in Belton, Cass County can be successfully placed under the willful and malicious conduct exception to discharge.

Note that other sections of § 523 appear equally inapplicable to the facts in the instant case. Debts in bankruptcy are non-dischargeable when they are taxes, obtained by false pretenses, fraud in a fiduciary capacity, larceny, child or spousal support, through a fine or penalty or forfeiture to a governmental unit, or educational loans. They are also non-dischargeable when waived by the debtor or made through commitments to federal depository institutions. With the exception of driving while intoxicated under § 523, no other portions of 11 U.S.C. § 523 seem applicable to this case.

1Note that a substantial body of bankruptcy courts presume that the intoxication was a causal factor in the incident and do not require a litigant to independently prove it. However, the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri has already considered this fact and determined that a litigant must independently establish the causal connection. Christiansen, 80 B.R. at 484, n. 3.

2A sedative drug.

3Indicators of intoxication have been held sufficient to supports verdicts of “intoxication” in a number of cases where field sobriety tests could not be performed. State v. Burris, 729 S.W.2d 661, 663 (Mo.App. S.D. 1987); State v. Jackson, 643 S.W.2d 74 (Mo.App. 1982); State v. Powell, 618 S.W.2d 47 (Mo.App. 1981); State v. Laws, 547 S.W.2d 162 (Mo.App. 1977).

4Note that expert testimony could be included to create an inference that a blood alcohol content of .088 one and one-half hours after an incident was really over the legal limit of .08 at the time of the Belton auto accident.

5Mr. Meanor’s blood sample was unreliable regarding his B.A.C. at the time of the accident because he sustained injuries at that time and could not be tested. His blood sample was taken “later that morning” at the hospital. Meanor, 863 S.W.2d at 887.

6None of these section of the Code appear applicable to the present case absent other information, such as some willful or fraudulent conduct by Ms. Mitchell. See issue IV. at 9 (examining the application of the willful and malicious conduct exception to the facts in this case).

7For other case citations, look to Cassidy v. Minihan, 794 F.2d 340, 343 (8th Cir. 1986).

Cass County & Johnson County Auto Accidents, Criminal Defense l Leave A Comment

Harrisonville Missouri Auto Accident – Attorney Analysis of Witness Statements to Insurance Company

This is an example of an insurance company interview analysis.  The names and some facts have been changed to protect the privacy of the people and companies involved.  Reading this will assist a personal injury auto accident attorney or automobile accident victim in knowing the point of view of an insurance company in analyzing witness and victim statement.

September 28, 2009

Ms. Joanne Frankhurst

The H_______ Insurance Company

P.O. Box 905

Harrisonville, MO 64701

Re:      Kurst, Jerry and Judy v. Hart, Robert

Case No.:       CV39-438 CC

Claim No.:      68 AL 8814 and 698 AL 8107

Our File No.:  0602-2571

Dear Ms. Frankhurst:

I have interviewed several parties that have provided information relevant to our investigation. Summaries of what has been discovered are as follows:

Personal Injury Auto Accident Defendant – Robert Hart

Mr. Hart is a long-time resident of Harrisonville, Missouri. For thirty-three years, Mr. Hart served as the postmaster of Raymore, MO before retiring in 1978. He is a decorated World War II veteran. Mr. Hart has never committed a crime and has no recent traffic violations.

Mr. Hart received the purple heart when a grenade took one of his eyes in World War II. The Department of Motor Automobiles does not consider Mr. Hart’s lost eye a handicap for driving purposes. He takes blood pressure medication, arthritis medication, and an aspirin a day. Mr. Hart’s arm shows shrapnel scars from a battle injury. It has never impaired his abilities. Mr. Hart had not consumed any intoxicants the day of the accident. He comes across as alert, intelligent and honest. He will make a good impression to a jury.

This Harrisonville, Missouri auto accident occurred on July 12, 2006 at 1:34 p.m. on King Hill Avenue. Mr. Hart was coming out of a Dairy Queen parking lot, the only Cass County business operating in the area at that time. There was a lot of traffic. From Mr. Hart’s view, a car was parked on the street immediately to the left and a van was parked to the right of the Dairy Queen’s exit. These factors caused Mr. Hart to put his signal on, wait two or three minutes, and then slowly pull out into the traffic. Mr. Hart repeatedly looked left, right and forward before pulling out. Further, he glanced forward within 30 seconds of pulling his car into the traffic and did not see another automobile.

The truck driven by the Kursts pulled up to a stop sign directly across from Mr. Hart while he was waiting to exit the Harrisonville Dairy Queen. Mr. Hart’s automobile was clearly within the view of the Kursts. The Kursts intended to cross the street and enter the Harrisonville, MO Dairy Queen parking lot. The auto accident occurred when the two automobiles attempted to cross King Hill Avenue at approximately the same time. The point of impact was on the driver’s side of the Kursts’ truck. It occurred just before the Kursts crossed the center line of King Hill Avenue. Due to the position of the roads, the Kursts’ automobile was turning slightly to the left when the auto accident occurred. Mr. Hart was turning to the right and may have entered the street first. Neither automobile was traveling over five miles per hour.

After the auto accident, Mr. Hart and the Kursts exchanged insurance company names in the Harrinsonville, Missouri Dairy Queen parking lot. Both automobiles suffered minor damage. Mr. Hart was not hurt. No emergency automobiles were called to the auto accident scene for either party. The police accident injury report indicates that two persons had personal injury. The Kursts refused medical treatment and, initially, did not appear injured. However, the Kursts began to complain of back and neck pain when the police arrived. Specifically, when the Harrisonville, Missouri police officer asked Mr. Kurst if he was hurt, Mr. Kurst hesitated, looked to his wife, and said to her “your back hurts, doesn’t it?” Mrs. Kurst hesitated as if she did not know what Mr. Kurst was talking about. Then, she stated that her back did hurt. There is no evidence that the Kursts were driving while intoxicated in this Harrisonville, Missouri auto accident.

Mr. Hart received a ticket for failing to yield at the auto accident scene. He plead guilty in the Circuit Court of Cass County, Missouri at Harrisonville. He did not have a Harrisonville criminal defense attorney at that time. Mr. Hart feels that he was not totally at fault in the Harrisonville automobile accident.

Witness – Eve Johnson

Eve Johnson lives in Harrisonville, Missouri. She was working in the Dairy Queen at the time of the automobile accident. She did not actually see the auto accident occur. However, she talked to the Kursts a few days after the accident and reports that they told her that they expected to “get some money” out of the wreck. She states that the Kursts were “O.K.” before the Harrisonville Municipal police arrived but started complaining of pain thereafter. She heard the Kursts cussing about the damage to their new truck. Eve believes that the Kursts are at least partially at fault for the Cass County personal injury auto accident.

Reputation witness – Tessa Johnson

Tessa Johnson is the daughter of Eve Johnson. They live and work at the Harrisonville Dairy Queen together. She did not witness the Cass County auto accident but knows the Kursts’ reputation for suing people in the area on questionable claims.

Witness – Sandy Grey

Sandy Grey was working at the Dairy Queen on July 12, 2006. She witnessed the Harrisonville automobile accident between the Kursts and Mr. Hart. We have contacted her and expect to take her statement in the near future.

It is my opinion a counterclaim should be filed on behalf of Mr. Hart for the property damage to his automobile. A possible theme for this case is that the plaintiffs were “cruising for a bruising” by using this minor incident to finance treatment for their preexisting medical problems.

I look forward to continuing to work with you on this case and will keep you updated as our investigation develops. If you have any questions or if I can help in any manner, please feel free to contact me.

Very truly yours,

Matt Hamilton

Cass County & Johnson County Auto Accidents l Leave A Comment

Harrisonville, MO Personal Injury Auto Accident Attorney Resolves Cass County Lawsuit – the case study of Richards v. Carlson

To:  Casualty Claims Examiner

Insurance Group

6301 James A. Reed Road

Kansas City, Mo 64133-4775

May 1, 2009

Re:                            Jo Richards

Your Claim Number:      00-512796

Your Policy Number:     04-117-01

Your Insured:              William Carlson

Date of Loss:                November 18, 2005

Our Harrisonville, Missouri auto accident lawyers handled this case in response to a Lees Summit personal injury attorneys’ request concerning our position in regard to the auto accident personal injury suffered in the above referenced matter, the following was submitted.

CLAIMANT

Ms. Jo Ellen Richards was a 55 year old married Caucasian female who resided in a rural area just outside of and had an auto accident in Harrisonville, Missouri.  She and Robert W. Richards had been married for 27 years. She was employed as a supervisor at a therapeutic group home for MBCH-CFM helping victims of injury auto accidents in Harrisonville, Missouri.

LOCATION AND TIME OF HARRISONVILLE, MISSOURI AUTO ACCIDENT

On November 18, 2005, at approximately 5:25 p.m., while on the way to her home after work,  Mrs. Jo Ellen Richards sustained serious personal injury near Harrisonville, Missouri when a automobile she was driving on Highway YY about three (3) Miles West of Harrisonville, Missouri, was struck by the insured who had crossed the center line.

THEORY OF LIABILITY – NEGLIGENCE

Our Harrisonville, Missouri automobile accident attorneys determined liability in this car wreck was based upon statutory and common law negligence and particularly, the failure of Mr. Carlson to control his vehicle.

This Harrisonville automobile accident would not have happened had it not been for the drunken, reckless, careless and negligent operation of Mr. Carlson‘s vehicle.  Mr. Carlson needed a Harrisonville, Missouri criminal defense attorney.  He was charged with driving while intoxicated in Cass County Circuit Court.  Mr. Carlson failed to observe traffic rules, crossed over the center lane and struck my client in the driver’s side door continuing down the left side, hooking into the left rear wheel well causing her vehicle to flip into the north ditch.  Mr. Carlson was also charged with violating Missouri statute 565.060, which is felony assault in the second degree.  This is a Class C felony criminal violation punishable by one to seven years of incarceration and up to $5,000.00 in fines in Cass County Circuit Court in Harrisonville, Missouri.  This felony criminal violation alleged he caused serious personal injury in the auto accident while he was driving under the influence (DUI) in Harrisonville, MO.  Mr. Carlson was intoxicated, inattentive and exhibited lack of control over his vehicle all of which contributed to the car accident, injuries and damages suffered by Mrs. Richards.  He eventually plead guilty to this charge and served jail time in Cass County jail.

PERSONAL INJURIES AND PAIN AND SUFFERING

Our auto accident attorney in Harrisonville, MO alleged that as a result of Mr. Carlson’s negligent conduct, Mrs. Richards suffered the following injuries:

She has had and still has throbbing aching pain in her right wrist; she received a tearing in the scar tissue in her right breast which had to be replaced.  She suffered and continues to suffer pain on the right side of her body to include her shoulder, neck, leg, ankle, knee, and back.

Fortunately, Mrs. Richards had received and continued to receive excellent medical care from Cass County Medical Center in Harrisonville, Missouri with the continuing expense and lifestyle disruption which was expected to continue for the rest of her life.  However, this care had not corrected her physical condition to the level prior to the Cass County automobile accident which consequently had not allowed her to resume normal activities enjoyed prior to the accident.    Our Cass County personal injury attorneys felt that because of complications directly arising out of the negligence of Mr. Carlson’s actions Ms. Richards should have been, under these circumstances, been compensated for her pain and suffering, hospitalization, medical bills, prescriptions and lost wages and other attendant damages.  We contacted our associated who were Lees Summit automobile accident attorneys and they agreed.

Prior to November 18, 2005 Mrs. Richards had no health issues.  She had not seen a doctor for other than routine annual exams at Cass County Medical Center in Harrisonville for several years.  Even though she did not seek hospitalization at the time of the auto accident, the personal injury damages she sustained became immediately evident when she couldn’t sleep because of the pain.  The next morning she went to the Emergency Room.  From that day forward she had constantly lived in pain.  One health issue had transgressed and developed into another to include diagnosis with Raynauds and MCTD.  As she had no health issues prior to this Harrisonville, MO automobile accident, these subsequent diagnosis were the direct and proximate cause of the Cass County auto accident.

She is now required to have her heart, lungs, kidneys and liver examined every three to twelve months to check for ongoing damage.  She is still suffering with excruciating chronic pain in her joints, muscles and nerves.  She suffers from insomnia and has had to take numerous medications for stabilization of this pain.  She is now considered “high risk” and suffers from a suppressed immune system.

Our Harrisonville, MO personal injury attorney submitted a list of expenses/damages due to the injuries sustained by Ms. Richards which arose out of the Cass County, MO automobile accident.  The impact which occurred on November 18, 2005 caused serious personal injuries to Mrs. Richards and she had suffered and will continue to suffer ongoing current pain as well as future pain and suffering as a result of your insured’s unlawful conduct.

Set forth below were Mrs. Richards’s itemized damages:

SPECIALS

1.   Miami County Medical Center                                        $1,332.50

2.   Louisberg Family Care/Dyck                                          $ 252.00

3.   Miami County Medical Center                                        $3,311.40

4.   Neurology Consultant/Ryan                                         $795.00

5.   Olathe Medical Center/Miami/Nosti                         $5,133.90

6.   Olathe Medical Center/Stallard                                   $427.00

7.   United Imaging                                                                 $486.99

8.   Humana/Fishman                                                             $1,500.00

9.   Kansas Orthopedic Specialists/Wilkinson               $5,035.05

10.  Miami County Medical Center                                   $8,458.10

11.  SERC                                                                                  $1,205.00

12.  Dr. Newman                                                                    $658.75

13.  Dr. Williams/Anesthesia                                             $384.00

14.  Dr. Sneed                                                                         $ 3,050.95

15.  Dr. Nosti/Implant Removal                                      $17,493.73

16.  Pharmaceuticals                                                             $5,194.51

17.  Mileage/796 MILES @ .485                                       $4,846.00

18.  Lost Work Time                                                              $11,847.36

19.  Vehicle Loss                                                                    $18,102.00

20.  Rental Car/Enterprise                                                  $246.05

1a. Dr. Fessenden                                                                    $3,970.70

2a. Dr. Ruhlman                                                                     $ 9,859.75

3a.  LABCORP                                                                        $373.00

4a.  Dr. Davoren                                                                     $ 9, l55.60

TOTAL                                                                                  $112,219.34

PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY SETTLEMENT DEMAND

Our Harrisonville, Missouri personal injury lawyer, in evaluating this case, took into consideration the fact that Mrs. Richards was a physically active working lady.  She had endured the pain and suffering as a result of the trauma to the right side of her body to include her right breast, shoulder, neck, leg, ankle, knee, and back.  Lastly she and her husband had suffered a severe set back in their intimate relationship as a result of the trauma brought on by Mr. Carlson’s car accident negligence and Cass County criminal behavior.

Moreover, our Harrisonville accident lawyers took into consideration the fact that not only was the liability unchallengeable as were her $112,219.34 in specials, it caused our Harrisonville lawyers and Lees Summit injury attorneys to believe that Mrs. Richards would expect a substantial jury award in the event this case is tried in Cass County Circuit Court in Harrisonville, Missouri.  Accordingly, our Harrisonville accident lawyers concluded that Mrs. Richards’s case has a settlement value in the neighborhood of $325,000.00.

We posted our Harrisonville law firm’s calendar for thirty (30) days from the date of our demand letter so as to give the insurance company sufficient time within which to review and consider our Cass County injury lawyers’ demand, during which time no action was brought on behalf of Mrs. Richards.  If our accident lawyers did not hear from the insurance company within that time with a view toward settlement, suit would be filed forthwith.

Our auto accident personal injury lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cass County, Missouri at Harrisonville.  The Honorable Jacqueline Cook, Cass County’s Presiding Judge oversaw the matter.  The case was referred for Pleasant Hill auto accident attorney Matt Hamilton to handle.  He and his Cass County personal injury lawyers represented the Plaintiff and reached the settlement that was demanded where other attorneys had failed.

Cass County & Johnson County Auto Accidents, Criminal Defense l Leave A Comment

Cass County Missouri Personal Injury Auto Accident Attorney – Body of Petition for Damages – Anderson v. Carlson

PETITION FOR DAMAGES

COUNT I

COMES NOW Plaintiff, Johnny R. Anderson, and for his Cass County, Missouri personal injury cause of action against Defendant, Benjamin Carlson, alleges and states as follows:

  1. Plaintiff Johnny R. Anderson is a resident of and represented by personal injury attorneys in Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri; Defendant Benjamin Carlson is a resident of and represented by criminal defense attorneys in Belton, Cass County, Missouri; the  Cass County, Missouri auto accident giving rise to this cause of action occurred in Cedar County, Missouri.
  2. That at all times herein mentioned Missouri Highway 54 is a public street and thoroughfare in the State of Missouri, and in Cass County, Missouri, where the automobile accident occurred.
  3. That on or about July 15, 2003, Plaintiff was operating his 1994 Ford Tempo traveling in a westerly direction on Missouri Highway 54. That Defendant Benjamin Carlson was operating his 1995 Buick automobile in an easterly direction; that Defendant Carlson operated his vehicle in a way that caused a Cass County, Missouri car accident with the vehicle being driven by Plaintiff Johnny R. Anderson.
  4. Defendant Benjamin Carlson drove his vehicle in a careless and reckless manner by allowing it to cross the centerline and coming into collision with Plaintiff’s lawfully operated motor vehicle.
  5. Defendant Benjamin Carlson needed a Cass County Missouri criminal defense attorney because he failed to exercise the highest degree of care in the operation of his motor vehicle and was negligent in the following particulars.
  6. Defendant got a Harrisonville Missouri traffic ticket because he operated his motor vehicle at an excessive rate of speed.
  7. Defendant operated his motor vehicle without keeping a good and proper lookout for other cars on the roadway, including Plaintiff thereby receiving a Belton Municipal Court traffic ticket.
  8. Defendant failed to sound a signal of warning and was cited for a Lees Summit Municipal Court traffic ticket.
  9. Defendant failed to swerve or slacken his speed and thereby avoid coming into collision with the vehicle being driven by Plaintiff and needed a Lees Summit criminal defense attorney.
  10. Defendant operated his vehicle in a manner that allowed it to cross the centerline into the lane reserved for traffic going in the direction of Plaintiff Johnny R. Anderson and thereby causing the Raymore personal injury auto accident.
  11. Defendant failed to operate his motor vehicle as far as practical to the right hand side of the roadway thereby deserving a Belton Municipal Court traffic ticket.
  12. That the above and foregoing acts of negligence of Defendant were the proximate cause of the Cass County personal injury car accident between Defendant’s motor vehicle and Plaintiff’s motor vehicle and was the proximate cause of damages and personal injuries suffered by Plaintiff Johnny R. Anderson.
  13. Plaintiff has sustained Lees Summit personal injuries in the following respects: Plaintiff has incurred large expenses for hospitalization, doctors, medicine, and other medical care and plaintiff will in the future during his lifetime continue to receive such treatment for his condition; Plaintiff has received personal injuries that have caused him to miss time from work and has lost wages and earnings because of said conditions, and will in the future continue to lose earnings and wages because of his personal injuries. Plaintiff has suffered Cass County, Missouri personal injuries to his spinal column, body, and head, and in particular, bruises, contusions, sprains, strains, abrasions, tears and injuries to the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and tissues connected thereto. Plaintiff has suffered pain, spasms, discomfort, insomnia and mental anguish, and will in the future continue all of the aforementioned conditions. Plaintiff has balance problems due to vertigo and tendinitis, and that said conditions continue and will continue into the future. Plaintiff has sustained property damage to his motor vehicle.
  14. That on September 8, 2004, pursuant to RSMo. 408.040 demand for settlement was made on Defendant’s insurance company by registered mail, a copy of which is attached hereto, marked Exhibit A, and incorporated by reference. That said demand was rejected by Defendant.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment in his favor in an amount as determined by judge and jury, and for prejudgment interest at the rate of nine percent per annum from November 8, 2004, and thereafter and for his costs herein incurred.

Cass County & Johnson County Auto Accidents, Criminal Defense l Leave A Comment

Belton personal injury auto accident attorney gets maximum compensation for car crash – Veronica Neill v Alyssa Patton

RE: The Insured: Alyssa L. “Patton”

Date of Loss: January 15, 2010

Our Belton Raymore personal injury law firm represented Veronica “Neill” in her claims against an insured. Our Harrisonville personal injury auto accident victim demanded settlement in the amount of $400,000.00 or the total of the insured’s policy coverage, including any umbrella coverage, if any, to satisfy her claims against Ms. Patton and her Insurance Company.  Our best personal injury attorneys in Lees Summit at www.lees-summit-attorney.com reviewed this case and agreed.  In the event that the insured’s limits were less than our demand, we gave her insurance company this opportunity to protect its insured by settling for money that will not take her personal assets.

I attached a copy of the Belton Municipal Court Police Report for your review. This Belton injury auto accident occurred on January 15, 2010 at 7:33 a.m. on Highway 7 southbound in Pleasant Hill, Cass County, Missouri. It is a thirty-five (35) mile per hour speed zone. The insured was driving her 1994 Oldsmobile Cutless south on Highway 7 traveling at least the speed limit. The victim Veronica Neill was ahead of the insured (to the south) and was stopped in traffic waiting for a school bus to load students. There were normal traffic conditions. It was daylight, but cloudy so the sun was not in her eyes. The road was asphalt with no items to obscure her vision. The school bus also had its signal on for traffic to stop on this straight and level highway. It appears the insured simply did not see the situation and crashed her vehicle into the rear of Ms. Neill. Ms. Neill needed a Cass County Circuit Court criminal defense attorney.  She received a traffic ticket in Belton Municipal Court.

The witness at the scene, Michelle Jones, also indicated that the insured crashed her vehicle into the rear of Ms. Neill, who was stopped for the school bus and the school children.

The victim Veronica Neill’s primary injury is “whiplash” type soft tissue Belton auto accident personal injury damage to her back. Specifically, her medical treatment providers indicated personal injury to her posterior scalp, posterior neck and C-spine. They also indicated injuries to the upper portion of her face, her right scapular area, her left scapular area, lower back and the dorsum of her right hand. Specifically regarding her back, she continued to exhibit cervical radiculopathy indicative of a disc impinging upon a nerve. Her medical treatment providers through a CT scan of her cervical spine also indicated cervical kyphosis centered at the C4-C5 vertebra. Ms. Neill was exhibiting the types of disabilities, pain, and limitations one would expect for this type of Belton auto accident personal injury.

Ms. Neill hired our best Cass County Missouri personal injury attorneys to represent her.  She felt she needed a Belton auto accident lawyer and trusted our Pleasant Hill, Missouri law firm.

I enclosed copies of her medical records and bills for their review. Ms. Neill had incurred $112,748.00 in medical expenses which had not been paid for by health insurance.

Veronica Neill had $1,412.50 in employment loss. I enclosed documents signed by her various employers specifying and setting out her losses to date.

Our offer remained open until July 9, 2010. It was withdrawn and not reopened after that date. We filed suit on July 16, 2010.  We eventually received a Cass County jury verdict in our favor.  Our Belton Missouri personal injury auto accident client received the total amount of the driver’s insurance coverage plus court costs.

Cass County & Johnson County Auto Accidents, Criminal Defense l Leave A Comment

Belton Cass County Missouri Injury Auto Accident settles for policy limits allowing insurance company to avoid a bad faith judgment

The Belton Cass County, Missouri injury auto accident injury of Bruce A. Jackson occurred on May 24, 2009.  Our Cass County personal injury law firm represented Phillip G. Long in certain matters in Harrisonville, Missouri.  Our Cass County auto accident lawyers also helped him with his bodily injury claim.  The damage arose from a May 24, 2009 pick-up truck & motorcycle auto accident in Cass County, Missouri.  Mr. Jackson alleged it was the result of Mr. Long’s negligent operation of his pick-up truck as Mr. Long traveled in an easterly direction along Missouri Route 6 in Novinger, Missouri.  Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois (“Safeco”) insured the liability of Mr. Long for this loss.

The automobile liability insurance policy issued by Safeco insured Mr. Long’s liability with limits of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00) per person.

Mr. Jackson was being represented by a Kirksville personal injury attorney rarely seen in Cass County, Missouri.  By letter dated April 28, 2010, Mr. Richardson made a auto accident settlement demand on behalf of his client of a sum of Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($350,000.00).  That settlement demand exceeded the applicable policy limits by a sum of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).  In his demand, Mr. Richardson very clearly laid out his theory of liability and resulting damages, including the nature and extent of Mr. Jackson’s injuries.  As Mr. Richardson stated, Mr. Jackson sustained auto accident personal injuries including multiple fractures of his right fibula and his left tibia.  The left lower extremity fractures were reduced by instrumentation.  Mr. Jackson also suffered a fracture of his left clavicle.

Mr. Richardson summarized Mr. Jackson’ special damages as follows:

(1.)         TOTAL MEDICAL BILLS & RELATED EXPENSES:       $  82,184.26

(2.)         TOTAL LOST INCOME:                                                13,367.00

(3.)         TOTAL OTHER PECUNIARY DAMAGES:                        13,137.53

TOTAL SPECIAL DAMAGES:                                                     $108,688.79

Mr. Jackson alleged that he would suffer reduced earning capacity in the future, and that as a result, he will suffer a “future loss of income of a substantial nature.”  In Mr. Richardson’s letter, he stated that in the event a Cass County, Missouri auto accident lawsuit was filed, he would retain a forensic economist to more fully analyze Mr. Jackson’s future economic losses.

In his letter, Mr. Richardson theorized a verdict for Cass County personal injury pain and suffering alone of a sum of Three Hundred Sixty-Four Thousand Dollars ($364,000.00), which would be in addition to the special damages of nearly One Hundred Ten Thousand Dollars ($110,000.00).  These numbers totaled nearly Four Hundred Seventy-Four Thousand Dollars ($474,000.00), a sum nearly double Mr. Long’s automobile liability insurance limits.

Mr. Richardson also pointed out in his initial Lees Summit auto accident injury settlement demand letter that, because of the fact that Mr. Long was driving while intoxicated in Raymore and Belton, Missouri (Mr. Long’s blood alcohol content approximately an hour and a half after the accident was .109%), the facts and circumstances of this case supported a conclusion that a punitive damages claim would be submitted to a Cass County, Missouri auto accident jury in this case.  In Cass County, Missouri, a jury may award a Harrisonville auto accident Plaintiff punitive damages where the conduct of the Defendant “showed complete indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others”; in such a case, the jury is instructed to award a Plaintiff “any additional amount as punitive damages in such sum as” the jury may “believe will serve to punish Defendant and to deter Defendant and others from like conduct.”

In his letter, Mr. Richardson cited the case, Stoykovic v. Weller, 802 S.W. 2d 152 (Mo. banc 1991), where the Supreme Court of Missouri ruled: “It is important to recognize the purpose of punitive damages to deter reckless conduct could hardly be better served than in alcohol related driving cases.  If an award of ‘smart money’ can have a sobering effect on this Defendant and other like him, its deterrent purpose will be served.”

Mr. Richardson suggested a likely Jackson County, Missouri personal injury punitive damages verdict of as much as Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00).

I did not have an opportunity to review the applicable automobile liability insurance policy, but I assumed that it would not indemnify Mr. Long for a Judgment of punitive damages from a Cass County, Missouri personal injury verdict.  Accordingly, not only was Mr. Long clearly at risk of a verdict in a sum in excess of the Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollar ($250,000.00) liability limits, he was likewise at risk to a substantial Judgment for punitive damages from a Cass County, Missouri personal injury verdict.

While I was not provided with a copy of the letter to Mr. Richardson responding to his Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollar ($350,000.00) settlement demand, I understood that he corresponded with him on July 21, 2010, where he rejected the Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollar ($350,000.00) Lees Summit personal injury settlement demand and submitted a settlement offer of One Hundred Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($175,000.00).

In response to his offer, Mr. Richardson had communicated with him by letter of August 6, 2010, stating he now had authority to settle his client’s claim for the policy limits sum of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00).  In his letter, Mr. Richardson stated that “this is Mr. Jackson’s bottom dollar.”  Mr. Richardson had very firmly advised me of the same.

On behalf of Mr. Long, I thereby demanded that Safeco accept Mr. Jackson’ policy limits demand, and that Safeco enter into an agreement to pay Mr. Jackson a sum of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00) in consideration for Mr. Jackson’ agreement to release and discharge Mr. Long from any and all liability arising from this Jackson County, Missouri auto accident personal injury.

Safeco had now had sufficient time to thoroughly investigate this claim against its insured, and it now had an opportunity to protect its insured by accepting this policy limits demand.

The Missouri Supreme Court opinion in Zumwalt v. Utilities Insurance Co., 228 S.W. 2d 750 (Mo. 1950) and all cases following it required that Safeco act in good faith as it evaluates this claim.  In doing so, Safeco must consider the financial interests of its insured.  This claim had very clear value in excess of the policy limits, notwithstanding the likelihood of a Judgment for punitive damages.  As such, Safeco was legally obligated to honestly and sincerely negotiate and settle this claim within policy limits and to put the financial interests of its insured ahead of its own financial interests, when it had the opportunity to do so.  Mr. Jackson’ policy limits demand affords Safeco that opportunity.

I asked the auto accident attorney from Jackson County, Missouri to please promptly respond to Mr. Richardson’s August 6, 2010 letter by accepting his settlement demand of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00), to be paid in consideration of a full and final release of all claims against Mr. Long.

The insurance company agreed with our legal analysis and the case settled to the client’s benefit.

Cass County & Johnson County Auto Accidents l Leave A Comment

The Johnson County Personal Injury Automobile Accident of Angie Smith v. Anthony D. Long – The right way to demand car crash compensation

Our Pleasant Hill, Belton, Raymore and Harrisonville, Missouri personal injury law firm represented “Angie Smith” in the above-referenced matter.  She presented a claim against an insured for personal injuries she sustained in an automobile accident the insured caused.

On September 14, 2000, Angie was a passenger in an automobile traveling east on 75th Street in Overland Park, Kansas.  Our  Cass County, Belton & Raymore personal injury attorneys originally met Angie in Harrisonville, Missouri.  That day, Angie was traveling to Cass County, Missouri as an automobile passenger.  Mr. Long was driving while intoxicated in Johnson County, traveling west on 75th Street in Johnson County.  Mr. Long attempted to turn left at the end of an overpass so as to place his car on Interstate 35 headed south toward several  Cass County law firms as well.  Mr. Long pulled in front of the automobile carrying Miss Smith causing an Johnson County automobile accident.  Mr. Long was tested and issued a Johnson County traffic ticket for driving while intoxicated in Johnson County.  His Blood Alcohol Content was .143.  Mr. Long’s inattention to the traffic laws and safety of others contributed to cause permanent personal injuries to Angie.  Mr. Long would bear liability from this car accident.  Our Lees Summit personal injury lawyersdemand was an effort to settle the matter without trial litigation within the insured’s policy limits.

Our Lees Summit car accident lawyers‘ demand was intended to provide the insurance company with the information necessary to fairly evaluate and conclude settlement.  The statements made were in the nature of settlement discussions and negotiations.  It was the intention of our Lees Summit personal injury attorneys that no portion of the auto accident demand brochure be used in any manner at trial, should the car accident lawsuit proceed to trial, other than for purposes of establishing bad faith.

ANGIE SMITH’S BACKGROUND

“Angie Smith” was born on December 26, 1970 and was 30 years old at the time of her personal injury automobile accident.  She had a bachelor’s degree in Sports Psychology from the University of Seoul in Korea.  She attended Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas.  Prior to the collision, Miss Smith had no medical difficulties and had perfect teeth.  She had a boyfriend who was from Harrisonville, Missouri in Cass County.

FACTS OF THE INJURY AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT

The insured, Anthony Long, was driving while intoxicated in Johnson County at 1:30 a.m. headed west on 75th Street.  It appeared he was headed away from a  Cass County, Missouri law firm in Johnson County.  Mr. Smith, the driver of the vehicle carrying Miss Smith, was sober and was headed east on 75th Street.  They were headed toward a Belton and Raymore, Missouri law office.  Mr. Long attempted to turn across 75th Street so as to place his car on I-35 south towards Cass County, MO.  Mr. Long had a duty to yield to oncoming traffic.  It appears that because of his inattention and driving while intoxicated state, Mr. Long failed to observe the automobile carrying Miss Smith as he pulled in front of it.  Mr. Long pulled in front of the other automobile at such a late time that Mr. Smith did not have time to swerve or otherwise avoid the injury auto accident.  Miss Smith intended to file a lawsuit against Mr. Long for the car accident injuries he inflicted upon her.

The auto accident caused Angie’s face to collide with the dashboard of the car causing her injury.  Her head then struck the windshield, leaving an imprint of her head in shattered glass.

After the automobile accident, Angie slid onto the floorboard and was physically unable to get up.  Mr. Smith remembers Angie exclaiming at the terrible pain she was in.  Angie repeatedly cried “I’m hurt, I’m hurt” and “I want to go home.”  He remembers that Angie had injured her teeth, head, legs, back, neck, shoulders arms, lower ribs right hip, knees and calves.

Angie Smith was transported from the auto accident scene in an ambulance towards Belton, Missouri.  She spent over three hours in the emergency room.  The insured received a traffic ticket for driving while intoxicated.

BASIS FOR LIABILITY

It was clear to our Lees Summit auto accident personal injury attorneys from these facts that the insured, Anthony D. Long would bear fault for causing Angie Smith’s car accident injuries.  Mr. Long received a traffic ticket for driving while intoxicated and tested with a Blood Alcohol Content of .143.  The driver of the other automobile would testify in Johnson County Court that Mr. Long pulled in front of him at the last instance, and while he attempted to stop and swerve to avoid the car crash, he had insufficient time to do so.

There was no design or manufacturing product defect for Johnson County in either vehicle.   Accordingly, the defense of defective product design or a manufacturing defect attorney was not available.

The aforementioned facts and circumstances showed auto accident liability.  There was no question to our Belton, Raymore, Harrisonville, Missouri personal injury attorneys that a jury would find fault against the insured at trial.  We contacted the Lees Summit personal injury lawyers at www.lees-summit-attorney.com and they agreed.

PERSONAL INJURY

“Angie Smith” was transported to the St. Luke’s Hospital Emergency Room for medical treatment.  This hospital was closer to give her treatment for her auto accident injuries in Johnson County than a facility in Cass County, Missouri, such as Research Belton hospital.  From the automobile accident, Miss Smith was required to seek dental surgery for the Johnson County personal injuries to her mouth.  She underwent dental surgery at Oral & Facial Surgery Associates, P.A..  She was placed under general anesthesia and a ruptured front tooth was surgically removed.   Three months later, she was again placed under general anesthesia and an endosseous implant was put into her jaw.  Ms. Smith underwent a third dental surgery at the offices of Robert Lewis, D.D.S. where partial upper staples (temporary crowns) were placed in her front teeth.  After each surgery, Ms. Smith had to bear a painful recovery process.

Miss Smith continued to experience sharp pains in her upper chest and dull pains in her arms from her Lees Summit auto accident injury.  Her knee got a tingling pain and occasionally went numb when she sat.  She had difficulty biting down and could no longer eat certain foods.  Also, her voice had changed.  Her face appeared different because the Johnson County auto accident injuries to her upper jaw caused it to protrude out slightly.  Photos taken near Belton, Missouri confirmed this personal injury to her mouth.

In spite of all of this, Miss Smith continued to tolerate the pain and has continued on with her school work.  Due to the severity of the personal injuries to her front teeth, her lawyers and Belton and Cass County, Missouri dentists anticipated she would continue to experience teeth pain throughout her life.  She would need to have the implant and the crowns replaced periodically for the remainder of her life.

SPECIAL DAMAGES

Past Medical Expenses

A summary of the personal injury medical expenses that Angie Smith had incurred are listed below:

St. Luke’s Medical Center

Emergency Room Care                                                         $159.00

Pharmacy                                                                                    $12.00

CT Scan                                                                                       $1,323.00

Emergency Room Care                                                         $159.00

Oral and Facial Surgery Associates, P.A.

Anesthesia                                                                                  $235.00

Surgery to Remove Ruptured Tooth                                $130.00

Anesthesia                                                                                   $235.00

Placement of Implant                                                             $1,100.00

Robert Lewis, D.D.S.

Dental Examination                                                                   $35.00

X-Ray                                                                                                 $12.00

X-Ray                                                                                                  $10.00

Pulpotomy                                                                                      $75.00

Dental Examination                                                                    $35.00

X-Ray                                                                                                 $12.00

Interim Partial Upper Staple                                                   $400.00

Interim Partial Upper Staple                                                   $400.00

Place crowns and an implant attachment on 8/20/01             $2,750.00[1]

TOTAL PAST MEDICAL EXPENSES                                                     $7,082.00

Scheduled Future Medical Expenses

Replace porcelain crowns on teeth 8 and 9 on 8/20/11           $1,750.00[2]

Replace porcelain crowns on teeth 8 and 9 on 8/20/21           $1,750.00[3]

Replace porcelain crowns on teeth 8 and 9 on 8/20/31           $1,750.00

Replace porcelain crowns on teeth 8 and 9 on 8/20/41           $1,750.00

Replace porcelain crowns on teeth 8 and 9 on 8/20/51           $1,750.00

Replace Dental Implant one to two times                                  $1,650.00[4]

TOTAL FUTURE SPECIAL DAMAGES                                                            $13,150.00

TOTAL SPECIAL DAMAGES                                                                 $17,482.00

Non-Economic Personal Injury Damages – Physical Pain

Angie Smith had three broken teeth in the front of her mouth.  Tooth # 9 was ruptured below the gum line.  An implant resembling a nail was implanted where the tooth’s root once was.   That implant caused her pain on a daily basis.  She experienced pain when laughing, talking, and especially when drinking or eating.  At times, her front teeth, gums and jaw hurt spontaneously.  Following the Jackson County, Missouri injury auto accident, Angie could not move for several days because of the pain.  She lost sixteen pounds, dropping to a weight of ninety-six pounds.  She could not eat and had great trouble drinking because of her missing teeth.  She had trouble talking and walking.  She had pain in her head from breaking the windshield the vehicle.  She had pain in her legs, back, neck, shoulders arms, lower ribs, right hip, knees and calves and blood in her urine for between four and six months.

Non-Economic Personal Injury Damages – Disfigurement

Angie Smith was missing all or part of three teeth in the front of her mouth.  The photographs of Angie before and after the collision clearly showed the impact the insured’s automobile accident negligence had on her appearance.  Our Cass County, Raymore, Belton and Harrisonville, Missouri personal injury attorneys could see from a distance, even as of the date of the correspondence, that Miss Smith had a serious disfiguring injury to her mouth.  Young ladies are, of course, greatly concerned about their physical appearance.  The implants were noticeably darker, stuck out and looked different than normal teeth.  Because it was an implant, Angie would be able to show the Johnson County jury how she cleaned the implant simply by removing it and putting back into place.  Angie Smith permanently lost the attractive smile that she once had because of the automobile accident.

PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENT DEMAND

In evaluating this case, our Cass County, Raymore and Belton injury attorneys took into consideration the extent and nature of the personal injuries that Miss Smith had incurred, and the pain, discomfort and inconvenience she had endured as a result of her injuries.  The carelessness of the insured driver in the car accident resulted in permanent personal injuries to Miss Smith that had so far, required over one year of treatment.  In spite of her efforts to recover from her personal injury, she continued to experience regular pain, discomfort, suffering and embarrassment.

These problems took a toll on her personal life and plans in the future, all of which were created by the careless driving of the insured in the injury automobile accident.  Our law firm in Pleasant Hill, Missouri evaluated this personal injury claim for compensation.  Our auto accident attorneys felt confident that a Johnson County jury, like a Cass County, Missouri jury, would respond favorably to an attractive young woman whose body was painfully personally injured and whose front teeth were broken and ruptured below the gum line by the driving while intoxicated negligence of Anthony Long.

In view of these facts, and in consideration of the special damages, permanency of personal injuries, and unquestionable auto accident liability, as well as the future expense of dental surgery, our Cass County, Pleasant Hill and Raymore injury lawyers believed this case has a value of $200,000.00.  Angi Smith offered to settle her car accident claims against Anthony Long and Guide One Insurance Company for the sum of $200,000.00, assuming it was within the limits of the liability insurance.

Our Harrisonville, Missouri personal injury attorneys’ offer to settle provided an opportunity for Guide One Insurance Company to protect the interests of Anthony Long and to settle this auto accident lawsuit.  It also provided Guide One Specialty with an opportunity to avoid its own liability for extra-contractual damages for its bad faith and for a payment of the entirety of the judgment Miss Smith will receive at trial in Johnson County.

Our Cass County law firm posted its calendar for fifteen (15) days from the date of the personal injury demand letter to give the insurer sufficient time to consider our attorneys’ demand.  After that date, the offer would be withdrawn.  Thereafter, our personal injury lawyers would recommend to Miss Smith to immediately file suit and begin litigation.


[1] See Dr. Lewis’ letter of April 21, 2001, Miss Smith had dental surgery on August 20, 2001, a crown was placed on tooth #8, an implant attachment placed on tooth # 9 and a crown on tooth #9.

[2] See Dr. Lewis’ letter of April 21, 2001, $750.00 for the crown on tooth #8, $1,000.00 for the crown and the implant attachment on tooth #9.  Crowns need to be replaced periodically.  Dr. Lewis correctly states that insurance policies allow for crowns to be replaced every 5-7 years.  With good care, some crowns may last as long as 20 years.  It is reasonable to estimate a crown replacement every ten (10) years.

[3] Mi Kyeong Smith, who is thirty years of age, has a life expectancy of an additional 50 years.  See National Vital Statistics Report from the Center for Disease Control (December 24, 1998).

[4] See Letter from Oral & Facial Surgery Associates, P.A. of May 1, 2001, setting out that she will need the implant replaced one to two times at a present cost of $1,100 per implant.  It also estimates that the cost of replacement will rise.  It is reasonable to estimate that the cost will be $1,650.00.

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Pleasant Hill, Raymore, Cass County Attorney achieves 15 Million Dollar Judgment for Motorcycle Injury Auto Accident near Lees Summit

Raymore Personal Injury lawyer Matt Hamilton of the Lees Summit law firm of Hamilton & Associates was awarded a fifteen million dollar judgment recently for an injury auto accident lawsuit  involving a motorcycle.  The judgment came from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri at Independence.  Hamilton is a Pleasant Hill, Cass County, Missouri personal injury attorney that lives in Raymore, Cass County, Missouri.

The car crash north of Cass County, Missouri occurred on January 22, 2009 at the intersection of Highway 210 and Arlington Avenue in North Kansas City, Clay County, Missouri.  This is a location some twenty miles north of Cass County, MO and just north of law offices in Lee’s Summit and Jackson County, MO.  This auto accident occurred when defendant Earl McLaughlin drove his 1986 Chevrolet Caprice  automobile towing a flatbed trailer west on Highway 210 in Clay County, MO.  For reasons unknown, Mr. McLaughlin drove his automobile to the right (north) side of the highway and parked it on the shoulder.

Lauren “Sheehan” was an attractive young doctorate student studying Pharmacology at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.  She was well-liked and had friends from as far south as in Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri law offices to lawyers in Lee’s Summit Jackson County, Missouri.  She was driving a motorcycle behind Mr. McLaughlin, also west on Highway 210 in Clay County, Missouri just north of Cass County and Lees Summit.  Miss Sheehan was traveling at highway speeds.  She had no pre-existing injury or conditions and a bright future ahead of her.

As Miss Sheehan on her motorcycle, pre accident approached the position where Mr. McLaughlin was parked in his automobile on the north/right side of the road, Mr. McLaughlin moved.  He drove his Chevy automobile left, headed south across the shoulder and across  two lanes of traffic abruptly through the intersection.  Mr. McLaughlin either did not look to check for the safety of upcoming automobiles and motorcycles or looked and chose not to heed the risk of an injury auto accident.  For Lauren, this effectively placed a thirty foot wide barrier in front of her motorcycle at a ninety degree angle to the road.  There was no time to react.

There was no manufacturing defect in the motorcycle.  There also was no design defect in her motorcycle.  Simply, the negligence of other driver gave insufficient time to react.

The motorcycle driven by Miss Sheehan struck the side of the Chevy Caprice automobile driven by Mr. McLaughlin causing a severe non Cass County auto accident.  Specifically, the motorcycle struck the rear door of Mr. McLaughlin’s automobile.  The Caprice automobile suffered property damage.  The motorcycle driven by Miss Sheehan was “totaled.”  Mr. McLaughlin was uninjured.  Lauren Sheehan received catastrophic life-altering injuries.

Missouri law requires the drivers of all automobiles who intend to turn left at any intersection to approach the intersection in the extreme left hand lane to the traffic moving in the direction of travel.  RSMo. 304.341.1(2).  Mr. McLaughlin failed to do this by turning left in his automobile from the extreme right hand shoulder of highway 210.  The purpose of that Missouri law is to prevent serious injury auto accidents.  Mr. McLaughlin violated Missouri law.

Missouri law requires the driver of an overtaken automobile to to “give way” to the right in favor of an overtaking automobile.  RSMo. 304.016.1 (2).  The purpose of this Missouri law is to avoid a car accident that causes death or injury.  Mr. McLaughlin violated this Missouri law by failing to yield his automobile to the motorcycle driven by Miss Sheehan, causing a car crash.

Missouri law requires an auto entering a roadway from a private area to yield to another vehicle approaching on the highway.  The purpose of this Missouri law is to prevent serious non Cass County but Missouri injury automobile accidents.  Mr. McLaughlin violated this Missouri law by choosing not to yield to the motorcycle driven by Miss Sheehan but rather to drive his automobile left across several lanes of traffic from a private area (the shoulder) causing a car wreck.

In addition, Missouri law dictates that the driver of an automobile is required to yield to another automobile if the other auto is so close to the intersection that it is an immediate hazard.  The purpose of this statute is to avoid injury auto accidents.  Here, Miss Sheehan was approaching the intersection on her motorcycle and was so close at the time Mr. McLaughlin turned left in his automobile that it posed a hazard.  Mr. McLaughlin failed to yield to Miss Sheehan and caused this very serious injury auto accident north of Lees Summit.

As a result of the auto accident, Lauren Sheehan had the following injury broken bones:

Pelvis Fracture in 4 places

A C-2 transverse process spine Fracture

R suprapubic ramus bone break

L Sacroiliac bone fracture

L acetabular bone fracture

L superior PR bone fracture

L inferior PR bone fracture with 2 cm gap

R inferior Pubic Ramus bone fracture

T-3 transverse process spine bone fracture

T-4 transverse process spine bone fracture

T-5 transverse process spine bone fracture

T-6 transverse process spine bone fracture

T-7 transverse process spine bone fracture

T-8 burst spine bone fracture with retropulsion (unstable)

T8 compression spine bone fracture

T8 height loss of 60-70%

T6 Compression spine bone fracture

T9 Compression spine bone fracture

Abnormal widening of T7-T8 spine bone both on L and R

T6-10 posterior arthrodesis

Posterolateral listhesis

L-1 transverse process spine bone fracture

R comminuted humeral shaft bone fracture

R ulnar Fracture

Radial ulnar Fractures

Radial Head Fracture

L upper ulnar Fx and radial Fxs

Multiple R side transverse process spine bone fractures

Bilateral comminuted forearm (wrist) bone Fractures

Multiple Thoracic compression spine bone fractures

Multiple rib Fractures, 3, 4, 5

Miss Sheehan also received multiple soft tissue injuries as a result of the auto accident.  She had the following soft tissue injuries:

Coma – 1/22/09 to at least 1/30/09

L knee ligament injury involving PCL and LCL

Severe Tongue laceration

4 cm Liver laceration

Ligament injury of posterior T8-T9 facet joints

Foraminal compromise at T8-T9

Acute Respiratory failure

Lung infection/inflammation

Acute Spinal Cord compression

Intracranial hemorage

Bilateral apical pneumothorax

Most significantly, the auto accident caused Miss Sheehan neurological injury.  This is a brain injury auto accident.  Specifically, she had the following brain injuries:

1 Shear type intracranial injury with multisystem drop

Axonal injury

R periventricular white matter

Cerebral edema

L cerebral peduncle

Involvement of corpus callosum secondary to collision

Central spinal canal stenosis T8 secondary to retropulsion

Encephalomalacia of the L basal ganglia

R hemiparesis with probable right neglect

Large intrusion on the spinal canal due to T8 Fx

Spinal cord contusion at T8, bone touching the cord

Disordered sleep cycle                   (6-7 hours as of 4-15-09)           (5-7 hours on 3-18-09)

Limb muscle spasms including PCL and LCL, and R UE flexors

As of the date of judgment, the injury medical bills Miss Sheehan incurred as a result of the car accident exceeded $821,083.76.  Her medical costs continue to increase and will increase throughout the course of her life.

Miss Sheehan will lose very significant loss of wages and earnings as a result of this injury automobile accident.  Specifically, the car crash will cost her the following employment loss:

Miss Sheehan had an expected median salary of $102,336.  She was expected to have a career lasting thirty nine (39) years, at least.  This accounts to an estimated work wage employment loss as a result of the injury auto accident of $3,991,104.00 (nearly four million dollars in damages from work loss alone).  Naturally, this would need to be adjusted for its present value and expected wage increases.

The lawsuit to recover the damages from the car accident was filed in the Circuit Court of Jackson County at Independence on October 30, 2009.  Cass County attorney and Raymore resident Matt Hamilton filed the lawsuit.  His website is www.lees-summit-attorney.com.  He is a Cass County, Missouri personal injury attorney who has his primary law office in Pleasant Hill, Cass County, Missouri.

This auto accident brain injury lawsuit was brought before the court on February 4, 2010.  The Honorable Judge decided the case.  Judgment was entered for the victim Lauren Sheehan and against the person that caused the car accident, Mr. McLaughlin.  Damages were calculated by the Court.  Judgment was entered for the plaintiff and against the defendant for fifteen million dollars ($15,000.000.00).

Cass County & Johnson County Auto Accidents l Leave A Comment