An insurer will pay a policy limits settlement of $400,000 to settle claims arising out of a fatal car crash that left a toddler with multiple skull fractures.
Derek Harper of Schiller & Hamilton Law Firm in Lancaster represented the toddler, whose name was withheld. The then-two-year-old was in the backseat of a four-door quad-cab pickup truck being driven by her father when the truck ran into a tractor-trailer at highway speeds. The September 2019 crash sheared off the roof of the truck, destroyed nearly the entire vehicle, and killed the girl’s father.
“That one seat, that door, was intact on that back right passenger side,” Harper said. “She just got lucky.”
After being airlifted to a trauma center, the girl survived her injuries but became unable to walk for a time, and Harper said her gait remains unstable. Harper said that, due to the girl’s young age, it was unclear whether the difficulties with her mobility were medical or psychological, but that she had undergone both mental counseling and physical therapy.
Harper said that the father was liable in the accident, as he hit the tractor-trailer while it was making a turn at an intersection, but the reason for the father’s failure to stop is undetermined. Police estimated that the vehicle was moving at 55 mph when the crash occurred.
“It is kind of inexplicable,” Harper said. “No one really knows.”
The child’s mother was not in the vehicle at the time.
Four different policies were involved in the settlement, all of which were issued by USAA. Harper said the pickup truck belonged to the father’s father-in-law, who carried both liability and underinsured motorist coverage. Two other policies were held by the father and his wife.
Alexandra Heaton of Clawson & Staubes represented the defendant in the case, whose name was also withheld. She declined comment on the case.
SETTLEMENT REPORT – MOTOR VEHICLE CRASH
Injuries alleged: Multiple skull fractures
Case name: Case settled before any lawsuit was filed
Venue: Lancaster County
Date of settlement: July 23
Special damages: $83,749.23
Insurance carrier: USAA
Attorney for plaintiff: Derek Harper of Schiller & Hamilton Law Firm in Lancaster
Attorney for defendant: Alexandra Heaton of Clawson & Staubes in Charleston