A Connecticut Superior Court jury has awarded $231,023 to a 31-year-old Manchester man who sustained serious neck and back injuries in a six-car collision in March 2015.
After hearing two days of testimony—including that of the injured driver—the six-person Hartford jury deliberated six hours before rendering its verdict on Aug. 23.
Plaintiff Michael Kelly was injured after a 2009 Audi, driven by Joseph Annunziata, struck the left back-end of the 2008 silver Nissan Altima he was driving on Interstate 95 in West Haven, according to Lawyer Twillie, Kelly’s Hartford-based attorney.
Annunziata, Twillie said, was in the left of three lanes traveling northbound where “he was driving too fast. Traffic slowed down in front of him and he realized he would not be able to stop in time. He slammed his breaks, cut his wheels to the right and struck my client’s car.”
Then, Twillie said, Kelly’s car span out of control, counter-clockwise, and hit two other vehicles before coming to a stop.
“My client said the driver was going at or near 55 miles per hour. The defendant said he was barely moving and was in stop-and-go traffic.” said Twillie, an associate with The Haymond Law Firm. “But, you don’t spin out of control if the other driver is doing stop-and-go speeds.” Annunziata was ticketed for unsafe lane change. A lawsuit was filed in Hartford Superior Court in January 2017.
The crash, Twillie said, caused Kelly to have not only neck and back injuries but also a herniated disc, a bulging disc, loss of range of motion, severe headaches and blurred vision, among other injuries.
Twillie said testimony by Stephen Pedro, Kelly’s chiropractor, “definitely swayed the jury.”
“He really explained the injuries, the symptoms of the injuries and the long-term prognosis of his back and neck pain,” said Twillie, who noted the injuries are most likely going to be permanent.
Kelly, Twillie said Thursday, testified for 2 1/2 hours during trial “that he still has nightmares because of the accident. It’s also really affected his job in that he is a content writer for Hartford Insurance. It is difficult for him to work when there is weakness and numbness in his hands and he has headaches from looking at the computer screen.”
While the defendant initially denied liability, Annunziata “admitted liability at the last minute, at the eve of trial,” Twillie said. “His testimony at trial was no longer needed.”
Twillie said his biggest obstacle as the attorney on the case “was dealing with the six-month gap in [medical] treatment” on the part of Kelly. Twillie said immediately after the accident, his client went to the emergency room at Yale New Haven Hospital.
“The defense made that six-month gap an issue, but my client testified credibly that he was receiving bills from the hospital for thousands of dollars and he was focused on paying those bills as opposed to [getting treatment] and racking up more bills,” Twillie said.
Kelly, who incurred $20,036 in past medical expenses and is expected to spend another $50,000 in the future, did not have any surgeries. Instead, Twillie noted, he has been treated with chiropractic care.
Today, Twillie said, Kelly “still has numbness and weakness and radiating pain in both arms that appear to be permanent. He also has radiating pain into his right hip. And, he has headaches when he tilts his head down to read or for an extended period of time.”
The defense has until Sept. 12 to appeal the case to the Connecticut Appellate Court. Attorney F. Thomas Pachler represents the defendant. Pachler did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
While Annunziata admitted liability on the eve of trial, in court papers he previously denied much of the allegations laid out in the lawsuit. In fact, those court papers showed that Annunziata denied he was careless and negligent and denied that he was speeding, failed to apply his brakes and failed to keep a reasonable and proper lookout for other vehicles.