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Home / Practice Areas / Personal Injury & Torts Law / Contractor pays $1.75M to settle collision case

Contractor pays $1.75M to settle collision case

Plaintiff claimed risks for unemployment, dementia due to post-accident problems

A motorist injured in a collision with an electrical truck has reached a $1.75 million settlement of his Greene County case against the electrical contractor and its employee.

A severe ice storm passed through Springfield in January 2007, knocking out power for much of the city. Many traffic lights were out, causing major intersections to operate as four-way stops.

James E. Sharp, 44, was traveling south on West Bypass in Springfield on Jan. 14, 2007. As Sharp reached the intersection with Sunshine Street, he noticed the traffic signal was out. He stopped his car and waited his turn.

As Sharp crossed the intersection, he was struck on the passenger side by a truck driven by Gregory Sikes, an employee of PAR Electrical Contractors. The Kansas City-based company was sending workers to Springfield to help restore power.

Eyewitnesses claimed that Sikes was not paying attention and did not attempt to stop but rather continued into the intersection at full speed while talking on his cell phone. Sikes claimed he was not on his cell phone and did attempt to stop but slid into the intersection on the icy street. Sikes’ cell phone records produced did not show a call at the time of the accident.

Sharp was knocked unconscious during the collision. He suffered cuts and injuries to his head and a broken rib. An initial CT scan showed that Sharp had bleeding of the brain. He was hospitalized for four days and released.

Sharp worked as an IT technician for a local bank and was unable to work for seven weeks. He claimed he continues to suffer from regular post-traumatic headaches, memory and concentration problems, depression, fatigue, and personality changes. Although Sharp returned to his job, he claimed significant risk for periods of unemployment and early dementia because of his post-accident problems, Springfield plaintiff’s attorney Steve Garner said.

Several months before trial, with no mediation or arbitration, Sikes and PAR agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle Sharp’s claims.

Lee Baty, Kansas City attorney for the defendants, did not respond to requests for comment.

■ $1.75 million settlement

Personal injury/vehicular

■ Court: Greene County Circuit Court

■ Case Number/Date: 31107CC2988/February 2009

■ Judge: J. Dan Conklin

■ Plaintiffs’ Experts: Larry Cox, Springfield (economics); Dr. Kent Dexter, Springfield (headache specialist); Dr. Timothy Jones, Springfield (family medicine); Dr. Michael Whetstone, Springfield (neuropsychologist)

■ Special Damages: $49,092 past medical expenses; $4,712 past lost wages; unspecified future medical expenses; up to $529,741 potential future lost wages.

■ Insurance Carrier: Old Republic Insurance

■ Caption: James E. Sharp and Cheyenne Sharp v. Gregory L. Sikes and PAR Electrical Contractors, Inc.

■Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Steve Garner and J. Chandler Gregg,
Strong-Garner-Bauer, Springfield

■ Defendants’ Attorney:
Lee Baty, Baty, Holm & Numrich, Kansas City