A 41-year-old employee of a mobile home installation company has settled with his employer’s insurance company for $1.1 million, the full extent of the policy limits, after suffering permanent spinal injuries in a tractor-trailer crash in Horry County in May 2018, his attorney reports.
John Clark of the Clark Law Firm in Sumter reports that the incident happened when his client, Derrick Brown, was riding back to work along Highway 917 with his employer Ernest Ard Jr., when Ard lost control of the tractor-trailer truck they were riding in.
Poor road conditions caused by rain led Ard to lose control of the vehicle, and law enforcement officials later cited Ard for driving too fast under the circumstances and for having improper equipment because the vehicle’s tires were deemed to have been poorly maintained and needed replacing, Clark said.
As a result of the crash, Brown, who was already disabled prior to the accident and working part-time, suffered severe spinal injuries including a fractured thoracic vertebra, a spinal cord injury, open fractures of the tibia and fibula, an open femur fracture to go along with rib fractures. He received over $2 million in medical care, Clark said, including surgeries and hospital care.
Liability was never contested by the employer’s insurance company, Clark said, but the policy limit was $1 million, plus $100,000 in underinsured motorist insurance.
Clark said that while he and his client considered pursuing personal damages against the employer in the case, they decided against it after doing a cost-benefit analysis.
“We determined the defendant didn’t have the means to satisfy the damages beyond the insurance,” Clark said.
Clark said that in this situation the employer’s insurance company recognized that the damages far exceeded the coverage and that they wanted to fulfill their duty to protect their client from personal liability.
“Liability was clear, damages were astronomical, and their interest was to protect the insured,” Clark said.
Clark said the settlement was reached before the lawsuit was officially filed.
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SETTLEMENT REPORT — PERSONAL INJURY
Amount: $1.1 million
Injuries alleged: Thoracic vertebra fracture with spinal cord injury, open fractures of the tibia, fibula and femur and rib fractures.
Case name: Derrick Brown v. Ernest Randal Lee Ard
Court: Horry County Circuit Court (settlement reached before a lawsuit was filed)
Date of settlement: Oct. 25, 2018
Demand: $2 million
Insurance carrier: Northland Insurance Company
Attorneys for plaintiff: John and Sharon Clark of The Clark Law Firm in Sumter
Attorney for defendant: None