It was a short drive from home to Jenifer’s babysitting job. She
knew the road well and was in no hurry. Jenifer waved goodbye to her mother,
and departed for what she thought would be a simple, typical, pleasant
evening. Little did Jenifer know that her life was about to change unalterably.
Jenifer never reached her babysitting destination. She was driving slowly
and carefully. Approaching a turn, she signaled, looked in the mirror,
and started to turn. Suddenly, a roaring sound, then a crash. Jenifer
heard it, and then lost awareness of her circumstances. She was out for days.
The oncoming driver’s impact speed with the left side of Jenifer’s
car was estimated at over 75 mph. The impact tore Jenifer’s car
rear axle out from under her car literally leaving her car in pieces.
At the hospital, Jenifer’s blood pressure was unstable. Then it fell
rapidly. Her respiration rate faltered, and then it too, seemed to halt.
The attending physician bagged Jenifer, instituted emergency measures,
and then called for a helicopter. Within 40 minutes, Jenifer was in route
to a medical center. There, she was in intensive care for 5 days before
her miraculous recovery began.
Within a couple weeks it was clear Jenifer had a closed head injury, but
would largely recover by all superficial measurements and appearances.
Within a year, Jenifer was again at the top of her class, scoring remarkably
well academically, and building a paper trail of success for herself.
By the time mediation came at the defendant’s request shortly before
trial was scheduled, Jenifer had graduated from high school and won acceptance
to a pre-nursing program.
Yet, something was much different in her life. Her personality had changed.
Constant conflicts with her siblings, disputes with her parents, and discontent
with her circumstances had left Jenifer seemingly bitter, unpleasant,
and hard to get along with. Nothing at all about her injuries seemed tangible.
But they were.
Insurance Company Inaction
The insurance company thought Jenifer’s circumstances merited a nominal
award. Her recovery, it thought, meant all was well. Then, Domina Law
pc marshaled the evidence.
Careful case development and attention to detail by attorneys David Domina
and Audrea Kappert produced remarkable medical testimony for Jenifer.
In a video taped deposition requested by the defense, and under questioning
by Domina, neuro-psychologists and physiatrist witnesses described Jenifer’s
closed head injury as mild, but distinctly and significantly impactful
on her life. Looking forward into Jenifer’s future, Domina and Kappert
were able to focus the witnesses on how Jenifer’s personality change,
and her difficulty getting along with others, would translate into life
long problems. The testimony went something like this:
Do these changes mean, doctor, that Jenifer must be more concerned about
compatibility with her mate or her family?
Is this predictable?
Does it mean she may even have trouble finding a mate or to have a family?
It will be more difficult, and she will have to be more careful if her
relationship is to succeed.
Does this mean everything about Jenifer’s future relationships and
activities will be complicated by what has come about here?
Let me put it this way. If I ask you to walk a hundred yards under your
normal health circumstances you would have no problem. But if were tied
to a heavy metal ball and had to drag it, you could still walk, but it
would be harder.
Doctor, do you mean that Jennifer’s mild closed head injury and the
impact it will have is the “ball and chain” of her life?
You could certainly say so.
At mediation, Jenifer’s case was settled for an amount dramatically
exceeding initial offers, and entirely within expectations held by Jenifer’s
parents and Jenifer. As a result, her future looks bright, Jenifer has
the funds to equip herself with the tools she needs to cope with her known
Advocacy-in the courtroom and at mediation-makes a difference.