Family Settles for $200K After ‘Black Box’ Reveals Speeding Prior to Accident

August 23, 2017
Robert Storace, The Connecticut Law Tribune

A Moosup woman and her then-13-year-old son who both suffered traumatic brain injuries after a pickup truck crashed into their car have settled their personal injury case for $200,000.

A Toyota Camry driven by Lydia Brady was “violently struck on the passenger side” by a Chevrolet Silverado driven by Christopher Burton in the northwestern Connecticut town of Sterling in July 2016, according to Robert Reardon Jr., Brady’s attorney. The pickup truck, Reardon said, hit the side of Brady’s car as she was turning left onto the road Burton was on.

Both vehicles were totaled, said Reardon, a partner with The Reardon Law Firm in New London. The Jaws of Life were needed to get the Bradys’ out of the vehicle.

A lawsuit was filed in New London Superior Court in September 2016.

Reardon was notified after the accident that The Hanover Insurance Group, Burton’s carrier, would not give any money to Brady because she was ticketed for not stopping at a stop sign.

The officer who issued the ticket was told by Burton that he was going the 25 mph speed limit, and that Brady’s vehicle ran the stop sign, Reardon said. Brady recalled stopping at the sign but nothing else.

The letter from the insurance company read, in part: “Your client disregarded a traffic control, entered an intersection of oncoming traffic and irresponsibly and negligently caused a collision with our insured vehicle causing both injury and damages.”

That would have been the end of the case if not for the event data recorder, also known as the car’s “black box.”

Assisted by attorneys Kelly Reardon and Joseph Barnes, Robert Reardon said he was able to download the event date recorder. Most vehicles made after 2006 have some kind of event date recorder—or airbag control module—that can track speed and brake usage.

The Burton truck had information on how fast he was traveling eight seconds prior to the crash, Reardon said. While the speed limit was 25 mph, the event date recorder pegged him at 58 mph.

When pressed in deposition with the evidence, Burton, 53, “agreed he was going that fast,” Reardon said. The officer acknowledged he made a mistake in ticketing Brady, Reardon added.

“Under the circumstances, if he had been going the speed limit, there would not have been an accident,” Reardon said.
The settlement was reached Aug. 12. Burton’s policy was $100,000 for each passenger.

The Bradys received the money Aug. 16.

While the injuries Brady and her son suffered were severe, going after more money through Burton wouldn’t have made sense, Reardon said.
“He has no assets,” Reardon said. “He did not have a home or savings and there was no place to go after that.”

Both Brady, 32, and her son, Elijah, have recovered from their injuries, Reardon said. Brady, who feels she might still have some short-term memory loss, is back at work as a bank teller and Elijah is preparing for middle school.

Burton and The Hanover Insurance Group were represented by Cullen Guilmartin, a partner with Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani in Glastonbury. He wasn’t available for comment Wednesday.