Large Verdict Provided in Case Involving Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from Texting and Driving

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    Every year, nearly two million people sustain a head injury. Head injuries, also called Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), are a major cause of death and disability in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths and those who survive can face effects that last the rest of their lives.
    A brain injury can lead to serious health complications, including permanent physical and mental disabilities, as seen in this case involving a 16-year-old sophomore at Joplin High School in Joplin, Missouri.

    According to the Joplin Globe, Olivia Kelly was 16 years old when fellow student Joseph Schnaedter, 18, collided into her car in a busy intersection. This accident would leave Kelly with a serious brain injury that prevented her from recalling her birth date, phone number, or even who her own father was.

    Due to the prolonged effects of Kelly’s injury, the family decided to bring a lawsuit against Joplin High School Senior, Joseph Schnaedter, and his insurance company, Safeco Insurance. Charles Sticklen and Shelley Dreyer, Kelly’s attorneys, argued that the students’ cars arrived at the intersection at the same time, but because Kelly was the driver on the right, she had the right of way. They argued that if Schnaedter had not been distracted due to texting, the accident may not have occurred.

    Attorney Oscar Espinoza, representing defendant Joseph Schnaedter, argued that his client was not texting while driving and had stopped texting before even leaving his home that morning. However, after going through cellphone records introduced as evidence by the plaintiffs, they found over 205 text messages from Schnaedter between 7:17 AM and 7:59 AM. The accident occurred at 7:59 AM, the same time as his last text was sent. The timeline was further proved by Schnaedter himself after acknowledging, under oath, that he had called his mother directly after the accident, showing as 8:00 AM on his phone records.

    After a three-day trial in Jasper County, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Kelly and ordered Schnaedter and Safeco to pay $900,000 to Kelly and her family.
    After almost two and a half years after the accident, Kelly is still suffering from her Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). She was forced to miss a semester of school in order to recover and suffers from mood changes, constant migraines, anxiety, sleep disorders, and more. Before the accident, Kelly was known to friends and teachers as a “straight A student”. After her injury, it was hard for her to maintain a C-grade point average when she finally returned to school almost 6 months later.

    Although Kelly doesn’t remember what actually caused the brain injury, whether it was the airbag, whiplash, or hitting her head on her driver’s seat headrest, the effects of her injury are still being felt to this day and have an impact on her everyday life.

    It’s important to note that not every person with a brain injury experiences the same type of symptoms. To learn more about common signs, visit our    Brain Injury Information page.

    If you or a loved one were involved in an accident and suffered from a mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), don’t wait to speak with an experienced Ohio brain injury lawyer. Fill out a contact form or call  (216)-285-9991  for a free, no obligation, initial consultation so the attorneys at Tittle & Perlmuter can help get the compensation you deserve.

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