In 2012, Arnold & Itkin represented a family who'd suffered immensely in the wake of a tragic ambulance accident. Our firm was able to successfully recover a $117 million verdict on the family's behalf; a verdict that has since been deemed the largest single-event personal injury verdict in Louisiana history.
The case involved a 21-year-old young mother named Whitley Lacey who had been 7 months pregnant. While at home, Lacey began to experience severe stomach pains and called Arcadian Ambulance to be taken to the hospital. She was picked up by a driver with a known history of causing severe accidents, who had poor vision, and who had been written up for bad driving in ten of the past forty five quarters.
As the driver in question took Lacey toward the hospital, he did not utilize emergency lights or sirens. Driving at approximately 59 miles per hour, he dropped his RSI device onto the floor. The driver then took his eyes completely off of the road to grab it—never reducing speed—and drove into the back of a sugar cane truck. During cross-examination, he admitted his eyes could have left the road for up to 17 seconds. It was later found out that the driver may have switched his medication.
The accident caused severe brain and spinal cord injuries to Lacey. Her spine severed at the fourth thoracic vertebra (T4), which is located in the center of the spinal column within the torso. In the wake of the spinal injury, Lacey was left with only the ability to use one of her arms. Beyond that, she sustained permanent brain damage. As our firm took on the case, she was bed-ridden and hospitalized and was only surviving with the help of involuntary breathing assistance. There was no acknowledged chance for her to ever have a full recovery.
Since the accident, Lacey has been able to regain a fraction of previous speaking abilities with the help of speech therapy; however, she will need 24-hour care for the duration of her life. At the time of the case, she had incurred more than 1.4 million dollars in medical bills. It is estimated that her medical bills alone will skyrocket to over 30 million dollars during the course of her life, not taking into consideration other factors.
The ambulance accident did not just affect Lacey. At the time of the accident, Lacey had a three-year-old daughter, and during her three month coma, her unborn daughter was prematurely delivered via Caesarean section. Not only were both children sent to go live with their grandmother in the wake of the accident, but it is unknown what the effect of the accident will be for the newborn girl, named Aaliyaha. In her first eighteen months, Aaliyaha has shown developmental delays that could impact her for the rest of her life.
When retained, our personal injury attorneys wasted no time in getting to work for Lacey and her family. While appalled by the clear lack of care from the large companies, we knew that we were lucky to have gotten involved, and to be in a position where we could help Lacey get the care that she truly needed.
"We were fortunate enough to represent that family following a terrible, terrible accident," said Attorney Kurt Arnold. "And I say fortunate because when they had initially hired us, she was unable to talk on her own, she was unable to sit up, otherwise have no improvement; me and my co-counsel were shocked when the initial hospital wanted to discharge her to their house without the best care. We are fortunate at my firm to be in the position to ensure that our clients get the very best care. We were able to get that family into the very best position possible, where she was able to get the very best treatment."
Our personal injury law firm was able to help recover enough money to take care of Lacey, as well as her two daughters. In the end, we were able to recover a $117 million award against Arcadian Ambulance for compensatory damages. $35 million of that award was for Lacey's future medical and life care expenses, $20 million was for future physical pain and suffering, $20 million was for the future loss of enjoyment of life, $15 million was for past pain and suffering, and $2.5 million for each daughter for loss of consortium.
"We represented a woman who was catastrophically injured—injuries that no amount of money could make up for," said Attorney Jason Itkin. "But we had to make sure that she would have medical care for the rest of her life, that she would have the support team around her to help take care of her, and we had to help bring the wrongdoers to justice."
If you would like to learn more about this case or our firm, contact Arnold & Itkin today.
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