January 28, 2022

Outliving the Settlement….

On October 26, 1986, Dan Crews was three years old, in a booster seat riding in his mom’s car. His mother lost control of the car and hit another vehicle. Crews suffered a spinal cord injury. The booster seat he was strapped into was deemed defective, and he received a $6 million personal injury settlement in 1992, $4.2 million after attorneys fees were paid. This money was put into a trust fund. When the settlement was reached the doctors projected Crews to live 20 years. He’s already 27, has outlived the settlement money, and now doctors say that he might live to be 40.

Crews cannot move his body from his neck down, and needs a mechanical respirator to breathe for him. He can speak and eat, but is completely dependent on 24 hour supervision. With his mother as his primary caregiver, he has to be turned every two hours, can’t go to the bathroom, and can’t wash himself.

Crews spends $300,000 a year on nursing care and has at least that much in unpaid medical bills. In addition, he pays the sate $500 a month for Medicaid for a program which will qualify him for a nursing home after he loses/sells his property. Crews custom built his home for $350,000.00 and still owes $190,000.00 on the house. It is clear that in addition to the other expenses in his life, the mortgage is not being paid. With help from Freddie Mac, he reached an agreement to pay half of the mortgage until the house is sold.

Who should be held responsible for the inadequate settlement amount? What remedies will be available to future plaintiffs. These are questions the legal system will only need to address more and more in the future, as medical technology improves, plaintiffs will keep outliving their projected life expectancy.

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