Jury awards collision victim $5.64 million
Imperial Valley Press
By Brianna Lusk – Staff Writer
September 12, 2007
An Imperial County jury awarded $5.64 million to Teresa Gonzalez of Brawley on Tuesday, who was severely injured when the van she was riding in was hit by a truck.
The award is thought to be the largest personal injury verdict in the history of Imperial County, according to the law firms who represent her.
Gonzalez, now age 21, was 15 at the time of the accident when a Dresick Farms commercial truck ran a stop sign and hit the van carrying Gonzalez and several family members.
Brian Panish, the lead attorney on the case, said all the other victims have settled out of court and the jury’s award Tuesday was a symbol of justice.
“No sum of money will ever make her the same,” Panish, of San Diego, said. “She will gladly give back all the money to have not gone through this accident.”
Panish said Huron-based Dresick Farms admitted liability in the accident but did not offer a fair compensation for Gonzalez’s injuries.
The trial only dealt with how much in damages would be awarded to Gonzalez.
When the van was hit, Gonzalez was on the side of the vehicle that received the impact and the truck “literally struck Teresa in the face,” Panish said.
Gonzalez’s flesh was torn from her skull and she suffered several fractures to her face and skull. She has had more than 20 reconstructive surgeries since the accident.
Panish said Gonzalez was robbed of a normal adolescence and continues to suffer problems daily as a result of her injuries.
Plagued with headaches and facial pain, Panish said Gonzalez was unable to complete high school and continues to seek medical care for her disfigurement.
“This has been a long road for Teresa and her family,” Panish said. “She has had tremendous courage.”
The trial lasted a month and the jury deliberated for two days. Panish said Gonzalez is happy to have the trial over with and is looking forward to moving on with her life.
“She’s hoping to get her education completed now,” Panish said. “She’s grateful to the jury, her family and all the doctors who have tried to help her get better.”
The potentially record-breaking case is not going to be contested by Dresick Farms’ insurance company, Panish said, and the amount awarded by the jury is expected to stand.
“I’m proud of her strength to stand up for her rights and know the financial recovery will greatly assist her and help her to move forward with life,” Panish said.
>> Staff Writer Brianna Lusk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 337-3439.
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