A Rhode Island pastor who received traumatic brain injuries when a tractor trailer slammed into her Volkswagen Beetle convertible from behind was awarded $2.5 million in damages following an eight-day jury trial.
On May 29, 2008, Reverend Kathleen Crockford, 59, a resident of Stonington, Connecticut, was returning home after officiating a wedding in Massachusetts when a tractor trailer belonging to Metals USA of Seekonk, Mass., hit her from behind as she was waiting on Route 1 to turn left. The impact forced her vehicle to smash into the car ahead of her.
According to New London, Connecticut’s The Day, emergency responders found Rev. Crockford unconscious at the scene. The pastor was airlifted to Hartford Hospital, where she was put into an induced coma.
After regaining consciousness, Rev. Crockford started the long and difficult rehabilitation and recovery process that all victims of severe traumatic brain injury face. An injury to the parietal lobe of her brain manifests in a number of ways, including headaches and dizziness, memory loss, decline in cognitive function/mental processing, irritability, and depression.
The truck’s driver, Larry Spencer, who was hauling a load of steel when the crash occurred, claimed that his brakes failed and that he had tried to stop the truck with his emergency brake. Police who analyzed the truck, however, found the brakes to be functional and that the emergency brake hadn’t been used.
The jury determined that Mr. Spencer was negligent but not reckless in causing the crash, awarding Rev. Crockford economic damages of $1,273,500 for lost income of about $65,000 per year, and past and future medical bills, and $1,250,000 in non-economic damages for pain and permanent injury, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life.
The pastor told The Day that she felt the jury’s June 21 verdict in federal court in Bridgeport was “just, fair and reasonable.”