Psychological Injury

Two university teammates left campus for an afternoon workout, one riding a bike, the other running. While on the sidewalk a speeding car hydroplaned, lost control, came onto the sidewalk striking both of them. Our client, who was about to be hit on her bike saw her friend struck, fly through the air, fall “like a rag doll” and hit her head on the curb. An Emergency Medical Technician appeared at the scene almost immediately and confirmed our client’s friend was no longer breathing.

Direct Consequences
The collision left our client with blunt force trauma to her legs, elbow and stomach, including puncture wounds and contusions. But her physical injuries were minor in comparison to the extreme psychological challenges she experienced in the following months.

Our client, a dedicated scholarship athlete, continued training but found it difficult to maintain past routines. She cried often while working out and could no longer train outdoors. At a competition, she passed out near the finish line and woke up screaming. As a result, her involvement in team competition ended. Stomach aches, chest tightness and headaches persisted. Flashbacks and nightmares of the accident made it difficult to sleep. The once sociable student who had previously maintained a 4.0 found it difficult to concentrate, track conversations and maintain good grades. She was now easily overwhelmed and lost motivation and drive.

This client had begun seeking therapy with a qualified psychologist when she came to Maschka, Riedy & Ries. Even under a psychologist’s supervision, post-traumatic stress made it difficult for the client to participate in the case.

MRR senior partner Jerry Maschka and paralegal Alicia More worked closely with the client to encourage healing.
“We had a lot of affection for this young woman,” Maschka said, “and we wanted her to get past the trauma. She didn’t want to complain, because she was the survivor. But her injuries were real. Even therapy was a challenge, because it meant revisiting the event. We persuaded her to talk and to participate in the management of her own fears.”

MRR interviewed experts and cited past trauma cases to reach a settlement. Because the client did not want to revisit details of the accident in a courtroom, both parties settled. Many believe the award may have been larger at trial. The client received $70,000 for emotional damage. Although public validation didn’t eliminate the injury, it did help the client accept her situation and move forward with her life.