King County officials have agreed to pay $3.5 million to Jeffrey Totten, a Seattle resident who was injured in a bicycle accident on a county bike route. According to an article in the Seattle Times, Totten’s injuries have left him with a permanent brain injury so severe that he needs full-time care. The county has agreed to pay $3.5 million for Totten’s care for the rest of his life.
Totten, 31, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and an endurance athlete, was biking with friends down Novelty Hill Road on Sept. 4, 2006 when the front wheel of his bicycle dipped into a depression abruptly stopping the bike and throwing him headfirst onto the pavement. Totten has since spent time in a hospital, a nursing home, a rehabilitation center and is now in a group home. His wife, Danielle Leavell, says she has “lost her husband”. Totten will never work again and will need 24/7 professional care for the rest of his life.
Totten’s personal injury lawyers argued that King County was at fault because it showed Novelty Hill Road as a bike route on printed and online maps, but failed to maintain it in safe condition. Totten’s bicycle struck a hole surrounding a survey marker that had grown deeper with successive paving jobs. Totten was wearing a helmet, but his fall was so bad that it didn’t help.
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, of the 1.4 million Americans who sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, 50,000 die. About 235,000 are hospitalized and 1.1 million are treated and released from emergency department. Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as loss of productivity as a result of traumatic brain injuries totaled to an estimated $56.3 billion in 2005.
I’m glad that Jeffrey Totten received the compensation he so desperately needs at this time for his medical care. The money awarded to Totten may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t considering the high cost of round-the-clock care for a brain-injured patient. At Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys we have represented several traffic accident victims who have suffered permanent brain injuries. It is heart-wrenching to see them struggle to perform the tasks we take for granted every day. This settlement may not change Totten’s injuries in any way, but it will ensure that he gets the treatment and care he needs for the remainder of his life.