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Rainy-day crash leads to $325K verdict

In this article by Heath Hamacher, Jacksonville, North Carolina Attorney George Collins notes that damages are not limited to compensation for physical injury alone. The law provides for recovery of damages for the infliction of emotional distress as was the situation in this case.

George Collins has successfully pursued this same cause of action a number of times in his practice, and is (along with Attorneys Ana-Cris Jimenez and Lee Britt) licensed to practice in all NC courts and in the federal district courts in NC. He notes they are also admitted to practice in various federal appeals courts and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Original article By: Heath Hamacher May 12, 2016

A Smithfield woman injured after another car sent her vehicle careening down a muddy embankment, where it overturned, was awarded $350,000 in January, her attorneys report.

The woman, 52-year-old Regina Sato, suffered fractures in her foot and elbow, lacerations, and emotional distress, according to one of her attorneys, Brandon Weaver of Thorp Law in Raleigh.

According to Weaver, Sato was traveling about noon on Interstate 40 with family friends, headed to Wilmington to visit her son for spring break. It was a rainy afternoon, Weaver said, and the defendant, Jose Tobias, was fast approaching from behind when he lost control of his vehicle and it slammed into two other cars, including Sato's.

Sato's car slid across several lanes, according to the suit, flipped over a guardrail, tumbled down the embankment and came to rest, upside down, between several trees.

Photos show that the roof was partially crushed and Sato's lead attorney, Isaac Thorp, said that she was hanging upside down, pinned inside the vehicle by her seatbelt.

Another motorist who witnessed the accident, Weaver said, helped pull all the victims from the vehicle, though Sato spent some time trapped in the vehicle with the body of her friend's son, a boy Thorp said was like her own son and who was fatally injured.

"She was trapped inside the car, with his body a few feet away," Thorp wrote in an email. "This really traumatized her, and was part of the mental suffering that we asked the jury to compensate her for."

Thorp said that with the help of the good Samaritan, Sato was able to free herself by digging through the mud and glass, cutting her hands to the point that the swelling left her unable to use them for weeks.

Sato wore an orthopedic boot and underwent surgery to repair her elbow. She was out of work for two months and accrued about $17,000 in medical bills, Weaver said.

Tobias was uninsured, Weaver said, so the case was defended by Sato's insurer, State Farm.

"Although the parties discussed settlement at mediation, it was clear that the case would need to be decided by a jury," Weaver said. "The parties had significantly different views of the value of the emotional and mental suffering that was part of what Mrs. Sato went through."

Follow Heath Hamacher on Twitter @NCLWHamacher

VERDICT REPORT - NEGLIGENCE

Amount: $325,000

Case name: Sato v. Tobias

Court: Orange County Civil Superior Court

Case No.: 14 CVS 332

Judge: Allen Baddour

Date of verdict: Jan. 26

Attorneys for plaintiff: Isaac Thorp and Brandon Weaver of Thorp Law in Raleigh

Attorney for defendant: Dena Waters of Waters Law Firm in Cary

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