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Three years ago, a teenager was seriously injured when a tractor-trailer ran a stoplight. Before the crash, she was working and attending college; a promising career was in her future. Now, she requires constant care and supervision.

After the accident, the young woman suffered severe brain damage; she was in a coma for months. She was one of the ‘lucky ones’; she regained consciousness and underwent extensive physical therapy. However, she now requires around-the-clock care; she needs assistance with normal daily activities such as walking, bathing, getting dressed, eating, even going to the bathroom.

Both parties claimed they had the green light; however, a witness testified on behalf of the plaintiff. In early 2009, a jury found the defendant 100% at fault, and awarded the plaintiff $65 million. The defendant argued that the award was excessive, and demanded a new trial.. The appeal specifically questioned the pain and suffering award, the level of impairment and the amount of damages awarded for loss of enjoyment of life. How you can place a money value on those things is beyond my comprehension, but I have trust in the jury system and I am certain that the jury got it right, here. To insurance companies, verdicts are strictly about dollars and cents; that is why they dispute things to the end, "delay, deny, confuse and refuse". To a plaintiff, and this case is an excellent example, it is not about the money; it is about the quality of the life of a young woman, the bright future she had in front of her, the right to finish college and have a career, to meet a man, fall in love, get married and have children, to enjoy and truly experience a rich life. Instead, she is a cognitive vegetable and, because of insurance company shenanigans, the money to help care for her has still not been paid. To such a person’s family, she was a butterfly, escaping the cocoon; she was ready to fly on her own and her parents and siblings could enjoy her company as a equal, loving family member. Now, instead, they must bear the burden of her care, for the rest of their lives; they will bravely say it is their pleasure, but, truly, it is their unexpected duty, not their "pleasure".

There is light at the end of this long tunnel; now, almost a year-and-a-half after the jury’s original decision, the Court of Appeals has upheld the jury’s verdict. This decision should guarantee that this young lady and her family will be able to afford adequate care – personal and medical care that she will need the rest of her life.

It is unknown whether the driver of the tractor trailer was distracted when he ran the traffic light or not, and now that this case has been settled, the true facts may never be known. More automobile accidents occur at intersections than anywhere else. Often, these accidents occur when one party speeds through or tries to beat a red light; passengers in the at-fault vehicle or the opposite vehicle, which ever is broadsided, are more vulnerable to serious injury or death because of the lack of side impact protection.

I’ve waited impatiently at red lights; I know that there is a tendency to watch for the green and go. But, how about this? Take a breath when the light turns green; look both ways before you proceed, despite the guy behind you laying on the horn. Proceed cautiously, especially at intersections. Each and every time you are on the roadway, mentally prepare. It is dangerous out there – people on cell phones, texting, putting on make-up, petting the dog; I know you have heard of or experienced even more outlandish distractions. Feel free to share them in response to this post. I once observed a person reading a newspaper and shaving with an electric razor while driving; can you top that?. And drivers, in general, are in a hurry, even when they aren’t late. Of course, there are the more serious issues like driving while on drugs or intoxicated. Sober drivers must be aware and alert for the unexpected; again wait to 3 – 5 seconds before you advance. Never rely on the "other guy".

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit fundingindustry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed for pending personal injury litigants. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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