During the early morning hours of June 15, 2018, Theresa Montgomery was injured in a motor vehicle crash when Thomas Trout plowed his 18-wheel tractor-trailer into the vehicle in which Theresa was a passenger.1 As a result of this incident, Theresa suffered serious and permanent injuries.
Earlier that evening Mr. Trout, a commercial truck driver with 2 1/2 years of driving experience, picked up his cargo and headed to his employer’s homebase to make his last delivery. Minutes earlier, Theresa was getting ready to leave a local bar where friends had gathered to celebrate a birthday. Receipts confirmed that Theresa had purchased two drinks during the evening. Theresa rode with friends to the bar and would leave the same way. Unbeknownst to her, the driver of the vehicle that she rode in had been drinking before joining the birthday celebration.
After leaving the bar, the vehicle Theresa was riding in approached a flashing yellow light at a local intersection. The driver planned to make a left turn at the intersection. Mr. Trout was driving in the opposite direction in the middle lane and planned to go straight through the intersection. Theresa’s vehicle made a left turn in front of Mr. Trout’s 18-wheel tractor-trailer resulting in a significant crash that first responders initially believed resulted in the death of everyone inside Theresa’s vehicle.
At first blush, many attorneys would turn this case down. The driver of Theresa’s vehicle was later found to be well over the legal limit for alcohol. That driver had made a left turn in front of Mr. Trout’s tractor-trailer, which had the right of way. Theresa’s prior attorney reached out to David Sampedro, who began investigating the case.
David hired experts to download the electronic data record of both the 18-wheel tractor- trailer and the vehicle in which Theresa was a passenger. A review of the electronic data record confirmed that Theresa’s vehicle crawled to the flashing yellow light. Moreover, Mr. Trout testified that he saw the vehicle come to a complete stop prior to making the sudden and unexpected left turn, cutting him off. Further testimony suggested that as Mr. Trout approached the intersection, he flashed his headlights at the vehicle in which Theresa was a passenger. Mr. Trout claimed to have done this to warn the vehicle that he was approaching. However, he acknowledged that flashing your headlights to other vehicles is universally regarded to suggest to other drivers that they can safely pass.
Mr. Trout’s testimony was inconsistent. He suggested the crash happened so fast that he did not have time to hit his brakes. However, the electronic data record from the tractor trailer showed that Mr. Trout was accelerating mere seconds prior to entering the intersection and was traveling more than 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Mr. Trout refused to accept the validity of data recorded by his tractor trailer. The electronic data record also revealed that Mr. Trout failed to apply the brakes until three seconds prior to impact. Experts hired by David confirmed that
1 The names of the parties have been changed in accordance with a confidentiality agreement.
had Mr. Trout slowed his vehicle to the speed limit in the three seconds prior to impact, the collision would never have occurred. If at any time leading up the collision Mr. Trout had driven at or below the speed limit, Theresa’s vehicle would have safely been able to make the left-hand turn.
Further investigation into the accident and the moments afterwards showed that Mr. Trout had tampered with some of the evidence at the scene in order to take favorable photographs. Beer bottles inside of Theresa’s vehicle had been moved and staged to take favorable pictures. Finally, the tractor-trailer which Mr. Trout was driving was equipped with a dash cam that was not properly operating and suspiciously did not record the events leading to the collision.
Immediately following the collision, EMTs used the jaws of life to extract Theresa. She was medevacked by helicopter and transported to a local trauma center where she was admitted with a multitude of injuries, including a traumatic brain injury. Theresa remained intubated for five days and was unconscious for one week. In addition, Theresa suffered numerous lacerations to the right side of her face, head, scalp, arm, leg, and back. She had a large gash on her right wrist. Theresa’s bladder ruptured and her urethra detached. She suffered a pelvis fracture requiring surgery and two large screws to hold her hip in place. Theresa also had multiple fractures to her neck and her spine.
The serious nature of these injuries would require Theresa to undergo months of physical and occupational training. Fortunately, Theresa had very good health insurance that helped to defray what were otherwise insurmountable medical bills. Incredibly, Theresa’s brave determination allowed her to make what her doctors described as a miraculous recovery. Today, Theresa shows no signs of the motor vehicle accident which almost cost her life. This was undoubtedly due not only to the heroic efforts of her various doctors and nurses but to Theresa’s determination to make as full a recovery as possible.
As David continued to litigate the case and prepare for trial, the court ordered that the parties attend mediation. Unfortunately, the case was not settled at mediation because of the issues involving alcohol and the failure to yield the right-of-way. Accordingly, David was prepared to try the case. Disagreements surrounding Mr. Trout’s liability as well as the blood alcohol level of the driver on Theresa’s car seemed to ensure a trial. Nonetheless, settlement discussions continued as both sides prepared for trial. Ultimately, one week prior to selecting a jury David was able to resolve the matter on Theresa’s behalf for $1,750,000.
After David negotiated reductions to the outstanding medical bills and lien from her health insurance carrier, Theresa received a very favorable outcome. All of Theresa’s past medical bills were paid, and the settlement provided for future medical care and treatment that Theresa would need because of this horrible accident. Theresa plans to use the remaining settlement funds to secure her financial future.
The ride was intended to be ridden by one person at a time. Frank watched his daughter start the ride, then it was his turn. He followed the attendant’s instructions, and in the blink of an eye, he was off. By the time Frank reached the end of the ride, he was screaming and in agonizing pain. The pain he felt in his back and pelvis was debilitating.
Following the incident, Frank was immediately transported by ambulance to a local hospital where they noticed that he had a pelvic injury. Frank had pain to his abdominal wall, legs, pelvis, and even his testicles. Frank was diagnosed with a tear to his right rectus muscle, an acute abdominal injury, and a bruise to his scrotum. He remained at the hospital for a few days, after which he was told he could go home.
After being home for a few more days, the pain became unbearable. Frank’s family transported him to South Miami Hospital where doctors told him that he would need to undergo an open reduction internal fixation because of his pelvic fracture. Frank was prescribed Percocet as a pain reliever following the surgery. Unfortunately, the Percocet irritated his bowel and led to a terrible bout of diverticulitis, which resulted in another hospital admission and surgical procedure.
Frank did his best to overcome his injuries and engage in physical therapy, but he and his family felt him slipping into a depression that required professional help. Frank struggled with the fact that a celebration of life – his daughter’s fifteenth birthday – resulted in a catastrophe that was taking control of his life. Frank became socially isolated and was having difficulty functioning at home with his family and at work.
As a result of his physical injuries, Frank developed a form of erectile dysfunction sometimes caused by traumatic injury. He sought the medical care and treatment of a urologist who explained that the pelvic fracture had damaged a nerve resulting in Peyronie’s Disease, which was causing his erectile dysfunction. After further mental health counseling, which gave him the tools to cope with his injuries, Frank knew he would need to take control his life. He decided to have a penile prosthesis which would include the insertion of a penile pump. Fortunately, Frank’s wife stood by his side and with the support of his family and, medical professionals and counselors, Frank was able to save his marriage and his family.
Faced with the prospect of mounting medical bills, an inability to work for a significant amount of time, and excruciating pain, suffering, and mental anguish, Frank made an appointment to see David Sampedro. David would have to file suit against the theme park owner and operator. Frank used to lead an active, independent and vigorous life. After all of this, he found himself using a cane because of continued pain and unsteadiness on his feet that led him to a fear of failing. Through the course of discovery, David found out that other visitors to the theme park had been injured on the same ride. David also discovered that although standing at 6’0” and weighing 245 pounds at the time of his accident, the theme park was aware that the ride was unsafe for individuals weighing more than 150 pounds. David hired experts in amusement park ride construction and development and safety protocols.
After significant litigation and shortly after setting the case for trial, David Sampedro was able to resolve the matter for $1,750,000.00. The settlement brought some peace of mind to Frank. He appreciated that David was able to convince the amusement park owner and operator that their carelessness had destroyed Frank’s life. With the funds, Frank was able to pay for the medical care and treatment he so desperately needed, pay for his daughters’ college education, and even buy his family’s first home. While Frank would not look back on this day with joy, the settlement funds did provide him with the security that the owner and operator of the theme park came so close to taking away.
*The party’s names have been changed to protect their identity.