Home health care professionals play a vital role in helping people with disabilities maintain their independence. Depending on the severity of a person’s condition, they may assist with medical needs, household chores, and the activities of daily living. When an aide is untrained, careless, or otherwise negligent, the consequences can be devastating.
In this case, our client was a woman with cerebral palsy who was confined to an electric wheelchair. While she was able to drive her wheelchair slowly around her own home, she relied on the assistance of a home health aide to operate the chair when she was out in the community.
One beautiful spring day, she decided to go outside for fresh air. Her home health aide, who was new to the neighborhood, was diving her electric wheelchair. Soon, they found themselves on the wrong side of a four-lane state highway they would need to cross to return home.
The aide made the dangerous decision to attempt crossing at an unmarked intersection. When they entered the first lane of traffic, our client was hit by a car. Just before the collision, however, the aide was able to jump back onto the curb to avoid injury.
Understanding Our Client’s Injuries
Although the driver was able to slow down before striking our client, the force of the impact threw her from her wheelchair. She landed with all of her weight on her leg, with her bent knee absorbing the fall. This caused a left distal femur fracture where the medial and lateral femoral condyles were displaced.
Doctors were unable to do surgery on our client’s leg due to the challenges created by her cerebral palsy. They temporarily immobilized the area, but it could not heal properly. This created a “windshield wiper effect” where every time she moved her leg, the bone would move back and forth.
Building a Winning Case
In any personal injury case, it’s common for the defendant to blame the injured victim. Here, the home health agency argued that aides were not responsible for making safety decisions on behalf of their clients. Despite our client’s limited neck movement and the fact that her view of oncoming traffic was blocked by the aide operating her wheelchair, they argued that she should have seen the approaching car and determined it was unsafe to cross at the intersection. The insurance company representing the driver of the car that struck our client made a similar argument—even though the driver admitted that her vision was obstructed by the setting sun.
The initial settlement offer in this case was barely more than our client’s medical bills. Despite the challenges posed by her disability and the chronic pain related to her injury, she wanted her day in court. She was willing to do whatever it took to ensure she was treated fairly, and because we were prepared for trial if mediation failed, we walked out on the defendants’ low-ball offers.
The trial was scheduled for March 2022. To counter the argument that our client’s injury was nothing more than a simple broken bone, we consulted medical experts and prepared an illustration showing how the injury occurred. We also contacted home health aides who had worked with our client in the past to paint a picture of how the injury would affect her day-to-day life.
With four weeks to go, the insurance companies reached a confidential settlement, accepting our last demand. Although our client’s injury will never fully heal, the settlement provided her with a much-needed sense of closure.
Do You Need to Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident caused by another party’s negligence, an experienced Nebraska personal injury attorney can help you protect your right to compensation. Contact the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop by completing our online form or calling 402-281-9668 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.