A Bergen County jury’s $4.1 million verdict in favor of a teenager who suffered permanent spinal cord damage in a motor vehicle accident has been upheld. The girl, who was 14 at the time of the accident—February 23, 2013— was traveling in the back seat of a car operated by her father when he ran a stop sign and crashed into another car. As a result, she suffers from chronic pain and has lost some of the strength and mobility in her back. She also has numbness and weakness because of trauma to her spinal cord.
The girl’s family sought compensation for her injuries, asking their insurer for $250,000 to settle the claim. When the insurer, Allstate, offered $7,500 to cover the girl’s losses, the girl’s mother was forced to bring a lawsuit against her father and his insurance policy. Under New Jersey law, when you are hurt in a motor vehicle accident, the person causing the accident is liable for any damages you suffer. Typically, though, that person has insurance and the insurance company has the obligation, by contract, to cover any losses caused by the insured. That’s what put the young woman in the awkward position of filing a lawsuit against her father for her losses.
The case went to trial in late 2016, and the jury returned the $4.1 million verdict. Allstate appealed the verdict and sought a new trial, contending that the verdict “shocked the judicial conscience of the court.”
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