The attorney for a woman who continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 17 months after a driver rear-ended her vehicle as she turned into her Wallingford apartment complex, has settled the case for $105,000.
While doctors expect 58-year-old Nadine Bontatibus’ back, neck and arm injuries to heal, attorney Brooke Goff said there can often be lasting effects of PTSD.
Goff, who heads the Shelton-based Goff Law Group, said her biggest challenge was making sure the case was ready to be settled.
“We wanted to make sure the case was ripe for settlement,” Goff said. “PTSD cases can go on for years and, as the attorney, it’s our job to settle the case at the right time.”
Goff said any attorney can settle a PTSD case immediately, but that’s not always in the client’s best interest to do so.
“In this case, we were far enough along in her treatment that her doctors were able to tell her with a reasonable degree of certainty what her prognosis in the future would be,” Goff said.
Goff said Bontatibus still gets anxiety almost every day when she pulls into her driveway after coming home from work, but she’s on the road to recovery following the January 2017 crash.
“The doctors do feel she will overcome her PTSD,” Goff said. “She has made progress.”
According to the police report, Bontatibus’ black 2007 Saturn was waiting for the left-turn signal to turn into her apartment complex on Main Street. The report said Bontatibus had traveled south on Main Street, and was stopped at the traffic light, waiting to turn into Yalesville Square. It said a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado traveling southbound and driven by Wallingford resident Hannah Dionne did not stop in time, and struck the rear bumper of Bontatibus’ vehicle. The force of the impact was so strong, the report said, it pushed Bontatibus’ vehicle across the roadway. Police gave Dionne a ticket for failing to leave a safe distance between her vehicle and Bontatibus’.
Goff was able to settle the case before filing a lawsuit.
“We had a strong case for recklessness, as the woman was clearly driving too fast and was distracted,” she said.
An expert for the plaintiff’s side would have testified that Dionne was traveling at more than 50 miles per hour in a zone with a 40-mph limit. Dionne also told investigators she briefly looked away from the road to change the radio station.
Bontatibus’ medical bills reached about $12,000, and she has residual back and neck pain, according to Goff.
Originally, Dionne’s carrier, Nationwide Insurance, wanted to settle for $50,000, well below Goff’s initial demand of $225,000. Goff said she believes Bontatibus’ PTSD factored into Nationwide’s decision to settle for $105,000, as opposed to taking the case to trial.
No attorney represented Nationwide. Rather, Goff dealt with several insurance adjusters, led by Jessica Mustokoff, a casualty specialist for the insurance company’s Northeast claims zone. Mustokoff did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The case settled May 25. Goff said Nationwide is expected to send the check by June 8.