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Breaking down a Boulder man's $6.5 million verdict

Have you ever wondered how car crashes can result in multi-million-dollar awards? Car repairs and medical bills rarely reach those figures, but those aren't the only considerations. There are other factors involved, as well.

Many of these factors contributed to the $6.5 million judgment recently awarded to a Boulder man. In 2009, the man had been rear-ended while stopped at an intersection in his 1998 Ford Explorer. Such accidents are typically routine, but in this man's case, a defect in his seat caused it to collapse backward until his head struck the back seat. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and extensive neck damage.

Proving fault and winning the case

It's easy to see medical bills for traumatic brain injury blast far beyond common insurance limits. To find compensation, the victims in these cases often need to prove someone else was at fault. Purvis Gray Thomson, LLP took the man's case and argued that Ford Motor Company should be held liable.

The trial team showed that Ford knew about the design flaw in its seat and had access to safer alternatives. They also relied on expert testimony to prove that auto insiders had long known about the importance of taller headrests. The jury agreed with their argument and decided Ford should be held accountable in the man's accident.

Economic damages

The jury's decision made Ford responsible to help the man recover from his damages. The first and simplest of these damages were the "economic damages." These had clear, objective money values tracked by receipts:

  • Auto repairs
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages

The Boulder man's case was exceptional in the sense that his medical bills were ongoing. Therefore, his award covered both past and future medical expenses.

Physical impairment and non-economic damages

The Boulder man's judgment included awards for both physical impairment and non-economic "pain and suffering." Colorado's courts think of these as two separate types of awards:

  • Pain and suffering: It can be difficult to place a dollar value on your comfort or to show how your pain and suffering can subtract from that value. Experienced lawyers often use photographs, videos and witnesses to show juries how pain can affect a person and force dramatic lifestyle changes.
  • Physical impairment: Colorado law looks at the damages for physical impairment outside of the damages for pain and suffering. This is important because the courts limit the awards for pain and suffering. But physical impairments can change a person's life identity-by taking away the ability to walk or speak. As a result, there's no statutory cap on the amount that courts may award for physical impairment.

Juries often assign value to these lifestyle changes in smaller, daily increments and then calculate them forward based on a victim's age and life expectancy.

Recovery to help you move forward with your life

The Boulder man's final award reflects Ford's liability, his economic damages and the jury's understanding of the way his injuries have changed his daily life.

His award also comes nearly ten years after his accident. Through those years, he's suffered greatly due to his injuries, and he's had to endure a long, protracted legal battle against one of the world's largest car manufacturers. With the help of Purvis Gray Thomson, LLP, he was able to pursue justice, and he can now look forward to making the most of his future.

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