A person’s life can be turned upside down in a single moment.
Our 46-year-old client, Shawn Clary, lives on a small acreage near Eltopia, a small town outside of Pasco, Washington, with his wife of 16 years and their teenage son. He had worked as a journeyman electrician in The Tri-Cities for 12 years. His wife, Tricia, works as an elementary school teacher.
Their lives changed in the early morning hours of December 6, 2016.
Our client was on his way to work at about 6:30 a.m. He was traveling southbound on State Route 395 driving a 2010 Ford Sport Trek at the posted speed limit of 60 m.p.h. It was still dark out.
At the same time, an employee of a large farming corporation was driving a potato harvesting truck pulling a flatbed trailer traveling east on a county road. The windshield defroster on the truck wasn’t working. Instead of cleaning the frost off his windows, the driver decided to try to drive to the shop even though he couldn’t see well out the windows.
The truck driver stopped for a stop sign at the intersection, looked for approaching traffic from his left, but couldn’t see through the heavily frosted windshield. He pulled out in front of our client’s car. Our client had no time to take evasive action.
As reported in the Tri-Cities Herald, a horrific collision occurred as our client’s compact car slammed into the driver’s side of the potato truck. The impact propelled our client’s car across two lanes of traffic, down an embankment, and into a field. His vehicle travelled more than 550 feet—almost the length of two football fields–from the impart before coming to rest.
Our client was trapped inside the crush metal of his car. He couldn’t move his legs. He could barely even breathe. First responders had to use the Jaws of Life to get him out of the twist of metal that once was his car. Miraculously, he survived.
A Washington State Patrol investigation concluded that the cause of the collision was the truck driver’s failure to yield the right of way. He was cited for negligent driving in the second degree. Under Washington law, his employer was legally responsible for the driver’s negligence since he was on the job in the scope of his employment when the collision occurred.
Our client had multiple, life-endangering injuries from head to toe. His injuries included a traumatic brain injury, six fractures of vertebra in his upper back, nerve damage causing a left foot drop, fractures to his lower jaw, dominant right shoulder, right knee, right ribs, a perforated bowel, and post traumatic stress disorder.
Our client’s medical ordeal included surgeries to put plates in is upper back and repair his torn intestine. Unfortunately, he developed an infection after his bowel surgery and had to undergo multiple surgeries to clean out the infection.
All told, he was hospitalized a total of 36 days, underwent 11 surgeries, and had to spend 14 days in in-patient rehabilitation.
Despite excellent medical care, our client was left with some residual loss of feeling below his nipple line, chronic pain in his upper back, decreased function in his left leg, and a permanent foot drop on the left side requiring use of a four-point cane and ankle/foot brace.
His past medical expenses totaled more than $840,000 and he will have significant future treatment. He lost many years of income of more than $87,000 per year.
Unfortunately, he could not return to work as a union electrician but hopes to stay as active as he can on the family’s small farm.
Despite all this, our client is happy to be alive. He is incredibly grateful for the medical care that allowed him to survive, the love and support of his wife and son, family, and friends and the grace of being able to enjoy the precious parts of life and each day as it comes.
Our client was referred to us by a school administrator whom his wife knew and trusted. We were able to secure a settlement for them which will take care of a lifetime of future medical needs, replace his lost income, and provide financial security for him and his wife.
The settlement is the highest personal injury settlement in the history of Franklin County. We worked with the family to insure that the settlement they received will be there for their lifetime.
My staff and I are inspired by the tremendous strength of our client and his family. We wish them all the best. It was a honor to get to know them and to help them through such a difficult period in their life.
If you or a family member has suffered catastrophic injuries and need legal help, call us. We have achieved the highest personal injury settlements in the history of Yakima, Kittitas, Grant, Klickitat, and, now, Franklin counties, helping those most in need get their lives back on track. There’s never a charge to discuss your case with Abeyta Nelson Injury Law, and no attorney fee unless we recover compensation for you.
-blog written by attorney Terry Abeyta, Abeyta Nelson Injury Law