A jury in Twentynine Palms, Calif., has awarded $15 million to the family of a 17-year-old local boy who suffered severe brain injuries in a 2005 traffic accident in Joshua Tree, which was reportedly caused by the negligence of a Southern California Gas Company employee. According to a news article in the Hi-Desert Star, Darryl Whitley of Yucca Valley reportedly ran the red light and struck the vehicle on the passenger side where the boy, Kyle Tilton then 14 years old was sitting.
Kyle’s auto accident injuries included the brain injury, a collapsed lung, eight broken ribs and major internal injuries. For the rest of his life Kyle will have to live with a condition called “frontal lobe syndrome,” which hampers his ability to reason as well as to plan and execute tasks. The $15 million will go toward the medical treatment and a lifetime of care Kyle desperately needs, his attorney told news reporters.
We’re extremely glad that the jury did the right thing and held the Gas Company liable for the full extent of Kyle’s injuries. The money will help Kyle get the treatment he needs and progress as much as medically possible. And it’s a blessed relief for his parents, who will get some sense of reassurance that their child will be taken care of even when they are not around. For the rest of us, it is a grim reminder to be careful out there when we drive. A wrong decision, a moment of negligence can instantaneously turn around another person’s life forever.
We just concluded an auto accident case against a municipality for maintenance of a dangerous intersection that contributed to a similar brain injury of a then 15-year-old boy. That case was settled just before trial for over $17 million in payments over our client’s life, a projected amount that will take care of the boy’s medical and personal needs. Since he needs 24/7/365 care, his parents’ greatest concern was, what would happen to their son after they were gone.
A $15 and $17 million dollar resolution in brain injury cases is a lot of money. However, that is the amount it takes to care for and provide the basic necessities for a teenager who will never be able to take care of himself or herself, much less earn a living. It is better that the wrongdoers be held accountable for the damages they have caused than to have the public welfare system stuck with caring for these boys out of public funds.
Good luck Kyle Tilton! Thank you to the Twentynine Palms’ jurors who carried out their civic duty.