Lawsuit Over Brain Injury From Auto Accident Results in $10.6M Verdict

A California jury has awarded $10.6 million to a man who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of an auto accident with farm equipment on a rural highway. 

The lawsuit was filed by Matthew Cole, 38, who was injured as a result of a collision that occurred at 4:30 in the morning, while he was riding as a passenger in a pick-up truck on his way to work in Palo Alto, California.

According to the complaint, Cole and his brother were on Shoemake Avenue, a rural 55-mph two-lane highway, when their vehicle collided with farm equipment that occupied their lane.  A farmer was blocking the lane while loading trailers with grapes from his property, which adjoined the highway.

At the time of the collision, it was dark outside, but the defendant argued at trial that the lights and reflective tape on the backside of the tractor were enough to be seen.  A cross complaint was also filed against an independent contractor who had allegedly given the farmer instructions to use Shoemake Avenue during the harvesting process.

As a result of the accident, Cole suffered a traumatic brain injury, which resulted in more than $620,000 in medical bills and an estimated $2 million in future medical expenses.

A traumatic brain injury, also known as a TBI or head injury, is one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability worldwide.  About 1.4 to 1.7 million people suffer a brain injury trauma every year, often resulting in permanent and debilitating disability that requires substantial expenses for treatment and day-to-day care.

Automobile accidents and truck accidents account for approximately 20% of all traumatic brain injuries, according to recent estimates.

Following trial in Stanislaus County Superior Court in California, the jury awarded Cole $10,651,423.13 in damages, representing past and future medical expenses, more than $2.5 million in lost earning capacity and $5.5 million in past and future non-economic damages.

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