Teen who was injured in utero settles lawsuit for $2.5M.


Byline: Bill Cresenzo

A 14-year-old who was born with cerebral palsy after he was injured in a car crash when his mother was seven months pregnant has reached a $2.5 million confidential settlement with the at-fault driver and his employer, his attorneys report.

Lynwood Evans of Ward and Smith in Greenville reports that the mother was involved in a car wreck in Sampson County in 2005 when the other driver pulled out in front of her, causing her to hit his vehicle. She went to the hospital complaining of abdominal pain and bruising, but testing on the fetus didn't detect any injury, and the mother was released.

Her son was born in December 2005 and began having problems with his physical development and motor function. He was ultimately diagnosed with spastic tetraplegic cerebral palsy. Today he requires the aid of a wheelchair and needs assistance with most facets of daily living, including bathing and going to the bathroom.

His family didn't retain legal counsel until long after the expiration of the statute of limitations for recovering the cost of any medical expenses that he incurs before he turns 18. His attorneys pursued recovery for other damages, however, including his future medical expenses, diminished earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

"The case had been reviewed and declined to a number of lawyers prior to us being retained," Evans said. "We did not actually file for a long time after we were retained, because we wanted to make sure we were on solid footing. We retained experts, and after the investigation and communication with the insurance carriers for the corporate entities who denied the claim, we went ahead and proceeded with litigation."

Evans called the lawsuit a "novel case" in North Carolina, as he and his co-counsel are not aware of any other North Carolina lawsuits dealing with in utero trauma from a car wreck causing cerebral palsy.

Two pediatric neurologists and a neonatologist posited that the car wreck was more likely than not the cause of the cerebral palsy and that there was no evidence of any other potential cause. Evans said the mother had a normal labor with no documented trauma during the birthing process, and the attorneys could cite medical literature to support the causal link between in utero trauma and...

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