During the summer of 2008, a motorcycle accident forever changed the lives of Kim Miller, a 45-year-old single mother, and her son Justin, 17. On that August 25, Kim was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle driven by her boyfriend, Willie Swails. As they headed south on US 41 in Bradenton, a van driven by Paul Torrey unexpectedly made a left turn directly into their path. Without a chance to take any evasive action, Mr. Swails ran directly into the front of the van. Mr. Swails was killed in the collision and Kim was ejected from the motorcycle. Kim traveled over 40 feet in the air, hit a concrete light pole and then fell to the ground. Kim was not wearing a helmet but fortunately for her, her head did not strike the pole or the ground.Kim’s numerous injuries included a closed head injury; multiple fractures of the ribs; sternum; pelvis; left leg, kneecap and ankle; and both hands, as well as multiple internal lacerations, “road rash” and burns. She was airlifted from the accident scene to Bayfront Medical Center. Following multiple surgeries and skin grafts, Kim spent months recovering from her injuries. Despite her significant efforts to recover from the numerous orthopedic injuries, Kim’s diffuse axonal brain injury (shearing of brain tissue) has left her with significantly impaired memory and cognitive functions and speech capabilities. She functions at a very diminished level, has severe difficulty walking, and will require 24-hour-a-day care for the remainder of her life for simple daily activities such as taking medicine, cooking, dressing and using the bathroom.
Mr. Torrey, the driver of the van, was arrested and found to have been driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. He had received a prior “DUI” and was driving on a “work only” license. Nationwide Insurance Company insured Mr. Torrey. Despite a clear offer to resolve Kim’s claims, Nationwide attempted to include unacceptable settlement terms as a condition to receiving payment of the policy benefits. These unfavorable settlement terms were rejected and our Firm proceeded to file a lawsuit. Despite the fact that Kim never hit her head in the accident, Nationwide retained experts to render opinions that the head injuries Kim sustained were all resulting from her failure to wear a helmet.Experts were retained and deposed, and shortly before trial Nationwide and Mr. Torrey finally agreed to stipulate to a $7 million judgment in order to avoid a trial before a jury.