Christopher J. Murray of the Haymond Law Firm in Hartford, Connecticut. (Courtesy photo)
An Ashford woman who was seriously injured after her van was rear-ended by a speeding vehicle in 2013 was awarded $385,000 following a three-hour mediation.
Dana Gustafson’s attorney said his client was forced to undergo lumbar spinal fusion surgery 18 months ago and continues to have lingering back issues.
“She is happy with the settlement. It was a very fair resolution,” said her attorney, Christopher Murray, who is associated with Haymond Law Firm’s Hartford offices.
The settlement was reached in Waterbury Superior Court before Judge Mark Taylor on Dec. 20, and the money should be dispersed to Gustafson soon.
Murray told the Connecticut Law Tribune Wednesday the case was problematic because Gustafson had pre-existing back problems before the car accident, and she was in a subsequent motorcycle accident in May 2014. Gustafson injured her arm and shoulder in the motorcycle accident.
According to the four-page complaint filed by Gustafson in May 2015, she was struck from behind by a vehicle owned by Bridgeport-based CW Resources Inc. that was driven by Tramisha Rivera. The lawsuit claimed Rivera was speeding and following too closely when she struck Gustafson’s Dodge Caravan in May 2013.
Gustafson, who is now 38, suffered injuries to her lower back with symptoms “radiating into her bilateral lower extremities”; her neck; right shoulder; left elbow; and several joints, bones and nerves, according to the lawsuit. Some of the injuries are permanent in nature, according to the suit.
Even though the lumbar spinal fusion surgery was done in June 2015, two years after the car accident and one year after the unrelated motorcycle accident, Murray said “the neurosurgeon said the injury [that warranted the surgery] was related to the car accident.”
Gustafson, who was an iron worker, has not returned to her job because of the injury sustained in the car accident, Murray said.
The settlement will be paid by CW Resources’ insurance carrier, Harleysville Insurance Co.
The case was scheduled to go to trial in January 2018, but the mediation was welcomed by both sides, Murray said.
“I think both the plaintiff and the defendant realized the risk that a trial presented,” he said.
CW Resources was represented by Celia Eggert, who is affiliated with the Rocky Hill-based Law Office of John P. Calabrese. Eggert declined to comment.