A Kentucky man, who suffered severe brain injuries when he was struck by a bus, will get about $ 7 million in an out-of-court settlement that was finalized this week. According to a UPI news report, Kevin Hable, himself a successful attorney, was forced to quit his job and his career because of brain damage and debilitating injuries.
Hable’s attorneys say they found out that the bus company, was negligent in hiring driver Terra Walter, a woman convicted of possessing cocaine and a crack pipe, according to an article in the Courier-Journal. She had also failed two drug treatment programs and had been ordered by a court to a third rehab program.
But the TARC bus company put her behind the wheel of a city bus and continued to keep her in spite of the fact that she tested positive for cocaine the next year. What was the result of that decision? It changed Hable’s life in an instant. According to the newspaper, the man was managing partner of law firm Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, making more than $400,000 a year, a 52-year-old outdoorsman who ran 5 miles a day and top aide to two Kentucky governors. Now he cannot even walk his dogs.
On Aug. 8, 2005, Walter reportedly drove her bus through a stop sign slamming into the side of Hable’s Jeep Cherokee. He suffered 11 broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a traumatic brain injury from which doctors say he will never recover, the Courier-Journal article says. His brain swelled up so badly that doctors had to insert a valve in his skull to let it drain. He also suffered from pneumonia and respiratory failure and had to be placed on a ventilator.
He couldn’t even recognize his own mother or brother in the days after the crash. He spent two months learning to walk, talk, eat and swallow food. The man, who was known for negotiating multi-million dollar deals for his law firm is now struggling with basic problem-solving skills. The physical therapy was so frustrating for the formerly physically accomplished man that every attempt to walk made him cry. What hurt him more than anything though was the fact that he couldn’t go back to work again, that he could never be the great lawyer and negotiator he was – ever again.
As for the driver, toxicology tests revealed that she was high on cocaine at the time of the accident.
This is what Hable tearfully said in a court deposition, according to the newspaper: “Ever since I was 8 years old, I had a goal of being a lawyer. And it really hurts…that I will never be in the future what I was before the wreck.”
Seven million may seem like a ton of money to most of us. But what can it do for Hable? Can it give him the quality of life he had before the wreck? Can it give him his career back? Can it give him the hours and days of pleasure he will miss in pursuing his favorite outdoor activities? Can it give him the satisfaction that comes from successfully negotiating multi-million dollar deals? The answer to all those questions is a big fat NO.
What we as personal injury attorneys do is to help these accident victims get the compensation they need and deserve to maintain their lives in the absence of an income. Although we call it “compensation,” it cannot really make up for a lost life, lost abilities or lost memories. How do you put a price on all that?
But what it does is it gives victims the sense that justice has prevailed, that the negligent person has been held responsible for his or her actions. Most importantly, it helps victims move on with their lives. Mr. Hable may never be able to get back to where he was before the crash. But we hope this settlement gives him the strength and the motivation to move on with his life.