On June 30, 2004, a major highway project was being conducted on a highway between Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri. Our client, a highway worker, was operating a concrete saw on the shoulder of the highway on that day. Shortly after he began operating the concrete saw, a southbound vehicle driven by Mr. Hill left the roadway some distance north of the worker. The Hill vehicle continued toward the worker on the shoulder for a distance before striking the worker's concrete saw. The collision forced the heavy saw backward where it collided with our client, causing him tremendous injuries to his head, legs and arms. At the time of the collision, there were no traffic control measures in place to protect the worker, although a traffic control plan that was approved by the highway department called for certain channelizers (barrels) and signs to be out on the road so as to keep vehicles away from the worker. A lawsuit was brought against the driver of the vehicle that struck the worker, the general contractor on the highway project, the company that provided the traffic control devices to the project, and Missouri Highways and Transporation Commission.
The driver of the vehicle was killed, but his insurance carrier settled for the maximum amount of his insurance policy limits, $100,000, shortly after suit was filed. The case was then litigated against the other defendants very heavily for about 18 months, and then, just days before trial was to begin, two of the defendants---the sign contractor and the general contractor on the project--settled with the worker for a combined total of $1.25 million. Only Missouri Highways and Transportation remained as a defendant, and they were ordered to arbitration by the judge in the circuit court.
A panel of three arbitrators heard the evidence against the Highway Department. They heard about the worker's debilitating injuries--a traumatic brain injury and a foot fracture that was so severe that the foot had to be surgically fused to his leg. They heard about the worker's other serious injuries, his multiple hospital stays and surgeries, and his daily excrutiating pain. The worker's injuries make it impossible for him to work any longer. He incurred over $350,000 in medical bills and has past and future lost wages of over $1 million. After hearing the evidence, the arbitrators awarded the maximum amount they could award under state law against the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission--$355,396. The worker, therefore, recovered a total of over $1.75 million as a resultof the lawsuit brought by our firm.