Many of the following cases were settled after trial for amounts less than the actual verdict listed below. The reasons for settlement after a trial verdict are many, including the length of time a case might be on appeal, the likelihood of losing on appeal, limitations in insurance coverage and sometimes clients’ desire to simply put their traumatic and painful experience behind them.
Automobile collision/DUI — $5,352,506.31
FACTS: Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle in Pueblo, Colorado, when a drunk driver ran a red light and T-boned her car, killing her and two other people in the car. During trial, it was revealed that defendant was over four times the legal limit, driving over 100 mph in a 40 mph zone. He tried to hide from the police and his conduct was willful, wanton and reckless. The court found that defendant’s conduct amounted to a “felonious” killing.
RESULT: Trial resulted in a judgment for the family of the decedent of $2,852,506.30 in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages. The results of this case were heard by the Colorado Legislature, contributing to a change in sentencing laws in Colorado for DUI offenses, making jail mandatory in certain DUI cases and creating a felony charge for repeat offenders.
Medical malpractice — $1,025,000
FACTS: Medical malpractice action against orthopedic surgeon involving a wrist fracture. The orthopedic surgeon failed to ensure that the bones were aligned properly before casting the arm and failed to take repeat X-rays at follow-up visits to make sure that they maintained alignment. Defendant claimed that plaintiff fell on her wrist while it was in the cast and failed to report the reinjury. Due to the negligent failure to ensure proper alignment of her wrist, plaintiff suffered nerve damage and a substantial loss of use of her left hand.
RESULT: Trial regarding these claims resulted in a jury verdict of $1,025,000 with 75 percent of the fault being placed on the orthopedic physician. Case was eventually settled post-trial for the amount of the doctor’s insurance coverage, which was $1 million.
Automobile collision/DUI — $2,638,273.33
FACTS: Plaintiff and her two daughters were moderately injured when defendant rear-ended them in Alamosa, Colorado. At trial, it was revealed that defendant had a blood alcohol content of .291 and was driving in and out of traffic westbound on Highway 160 at speeds approximating 80 to 100 mph. When defendant reached the intersection of Main and Craft in Alamosa, Colorado, he ran a red light, rear-ending plaintiff and her daughters. Following the collision, defendant attempted to flee the scene and ran into a railroad crossing pole to the south of the intersection.
RESULT: Trial regarding these claims resulted in a judgment of compensatory damages in excess of $1,624,717.50 and punitive damages in the amount of $731,990.90 against the defendant. Subsequent to trial, this case settled for a confidential amount.
Nursing home negligence — $250,000
FACTS: Plaintiff was a blind, elderly, wheelchair-bound resident of a nursing home. While on her way back from dialysis, the driver of the wheelchair van failed to properly secure the wheelchair. The driver hit the brakes, causing plaintiff to fly forward and break both arms and her collarbone. The failure to properly secure plaintiff’s wheelchair to the floor of the bus caused her to lose much of her already limited mobility and independence.
RESULT: In the course of litigation, it was revealed that the nursing home failed to take care of plaintiff as it was hired to do. Plaintiff’s family entrusted her to the nursing home and it breached that trust. Prior to trial, defendant settled for $250,000.
Livestock on the road — $300,000
FACTS: Plaintiff was riding as a passenger when the driver of the car hit a black cow on the road at night. During discovery of this case, it was revealed that defendant (owner of the cow) failed to keep his fences in adequate repair and his cows freely roamed the highway at night. A cow trail was found next to the road where the collision took place with fresh droppings to indicate that cows were regularly using this pathway to get to a water source. Due to the defendant’s negligence in failing to maintain his fence and care for his cows, plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury that impaired his vision and cognitive function to the point where he had to quit working as an oil well roughneck.
RESULT: Prior to trial, this case settled for $300,000.
Workers’ compensation/personal injury — $525,000
FACTS: Injured worker (claimant) was employed as a semi-truck driver. Claimant was traveling south on Interstate 25 at about 3 a.m. when he ran into the back of a piece of mobile equipment that did not have any rear-facing lights or signals. Claimant suffered facial fractures and a brain injury resulting in his being unable to work for several years. Vance & Larson represented him in his workers’ compensation claim and corresponding claim against the defendant trucking company.
RESULT: Claimant received payment for all of his medical bills, two-thirds of his wages for the entire time he was off work and a settlement for workers’ compensation for $175,000, in addition to $25,000 that was placed into a fund to pay for future medical expenses. The claim against the defendant trucking company was settled before trial for $325,000.
Motorcycle wreck — $700,000
FACTS: Plaintiff was rear-ended at a stop light by a day care van. His injuries included a herniated disk in his neck and a rotator cuff tear. Plaintiff underwent cervical fusion surgery as well as rotator cuff repair. Suit was filed against the driver of the day care van and the day care itself for negligence and negligent hiring. During litigation, it was discovered that the day care driver was distracted by kids in the van and the day care did not have a policy requiring kids to be seat-belted when transported or to remain in their seats.
RESULT: Before trial, the case settled for $700,000.
Medical negligence/wrongful death — $375,000
FACTS: Plaintiff wrecked on his motorcycle, resulting in a C2 fracture. He was airlifted to Denver and while in flight became unable to breathe. Flight paramedics failed to intubate plaintiff before landing and instead gave him high doses of paralytic, depriving his brain of oxygen for several minutes. Defendant argued that due to the small space within an ambulance helicopter and the timing of plaintiff’s loss of breath, they could not reasonably intubate him because it needed to be done while landing. Due to the failure to clear his airway, plaintiff suffered irreparable brain damage and ultimately died.
RESULT: Due to issues of whether defendant flight nurses were negligent in their failure to intubate plaintiff, this case settled before trial for $375,000.
Automobile collision/brain injury — $1.52 million
FACTS: Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle when the driver of that vehicle lost control and caused a rollover. Plaintiff was ejected and suffered a brain injury that left him in a coma for six weeks and with post-traumatic amnesia for 10 additional weeks. While he recovered substantially well from the trauma, it got so bad that the family called in a priest to administer last rites.
RESULT: In prelitigation discussions, the insurance companies tendered their policy limits to those injured in the wreck. Plaintiff recovered $1.52 million.
Workers’ compensation — $250,000
FACTS: Claimant injured her back while working. Claimant was found to have several herniated disks in her back. Claimant treated for several months and ultimately underwent three surgeries, resulting in her being off work for nearly three years.
RESULT: Despite numerous attempts by the workers’ compensation insurance company to cut off treatment and limit benefits, claimant ultimately received two-thirds of her wages for the entire time she was off work, had all of her medical bills paid and settled out her future benefits for $250,000.
The above cases show actual jury verdicts and settlements received by clients of Vance & Larson Law Firm, with Keith Vance serving as lead litigation counsel in cases tried to verdict. For many years, about 97 percent of cases handled by Vance & Larson Law Firm have settled prior to trial. Over the years, Vance & Larson Law Firm has obtained millions of dollars in settlements for its clients. The specifics of some of these settlements cannot be divulged because of confidentially agreements that were required by the defendants.