$5 Million gone in 10 years

When people see the headlines that a jury has entered a verdict for millions of dollars, they often think it is way too much.  Even when a person has a spinal cord injury.  But the terrible truth, is that unless there is enough money, a person with SCI will die too soon.

Rocky Clark was 16 when his neck was broken in two places during a football game.  The school had a $5M catastrophic medical insurance policy.  Rocky and his mother thought that would be enough.  But eleven years and many medical bills later, the money has been eaten up by hospital, doctor, and other health care bills.  $5M was not enough to take care of him for his life.

One of the most common defenses in lawsuits, is for  a defendant to say that the SCI plaintiff will not live very long.  This reduces the amount of money that will be needed to take care of the person for life.  If the jury agrees, the defendant can avoid paying the full amount of life care needs claimed by the plaintiff.

But the truth is many people with SCI live  close to a normal life expectancy.  A jury has only one chance to decide how much money will take care of the plaintiff.  Ten years or so down the road, the plaintiff cannot come back to court and say – hey I’m still alive!  There is not enough money to take care of me!

In Rocky’s case, community groups are trying to help but his situation is grim.  His mother is taking care of him.  No one is taking care of his mother (she had to file for bankruptcy).  Eventually something is going to give.

One Response to $5 Million gone in 10 years

  • Great post about a difficult issue! We also have faced arguments by the defense trying to decrease life expectancy, and thus, the amount needed to care for the injured person during his life. I think all lawyers representing clients in these cases would be wise to plan for this defense argument in every trial.

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About Karen
Karen Koehler, partner at the nationally recognized law firm of SKW, blogs about all things related to spinal cord injuries...More
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Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief.

Can I see a falling tear.
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd.

Can a mother sit and hear.
An infant groan an infant fear?
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He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
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And thy Maker is not near.

O He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.

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