An out-of-court settlement of $7.75 million has been reached in a lawsuit brought by the widow [Linda] of a man [Thomas] who died in a snowmobile-car collision more than 10 years ago.
The case dates back to February 19, 2006 when the couple were guests at The Point at Saranac Lake, a luxury 5-star hotel in upstate New York. The plaintiff claimed that the hotel arranged a snowmobile tour with Adirondack Snowmobile Rental. The tour was set up by the hotel for the couple and four other guests (2 other couples) who were also staying at the hotel, all beginners who had never used a snowmobile before.
They were given a 10 – 20 minute lesson in the operation of the snowmobile before setting off. During the tour, one of the snowmobiles broke down due to a faulty drive belt. The guide decided to head back to the tour’s origin and told the others to follow him. The suit claims the tour guide was in a rush and failed to protect the novice snowmobilers by traveling ahead of them without warning of road crossings and stop signs. The guide crossed a road and the couple followed, unaware they were traveling towards a road and stop sign. It was at this point they were struck by a minivan, killing. Linda suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractures of her tibia, femur and pelvis and underwent 5 surgeries to repair the fractures.
In 2007, Linda filed a lawsuit against the resort, its owner, the resort manager at the time, the tour guide, and the driver of the minivan “to recover damages for her injuries and her husband’s wrongful death,” according to court documents. A series of motions, adjournments, and appeals took place in the years that followed. The remaining claims were the subject of a trial that began September 15, ultimately ending with a settlement the day before closing arguments were to take place.
Throughout the history of litigation, there have been occasions where both sides have been able to work out a settlement. While this lawsuit is a perfect example, it still proves that it can take years for a case to settle and a plaintiff to receive compensation for damages. Why? Corporate greed can often prevent a fair settlement from being reached quickly. Insurance companies and deep pocket defendants are infamous in delaying proceedings and denying fair resolution; they have all the time and all the money in the world to wait. Thus, plaintiffs are often forced to pursue cases to or near scheduled trial dates.
Unfortunately, financial need will result in a diminished recovery for many plaintiffs. The insurance company makes a low settlement offer, which financially strapped plaintiffs are tempted to accept. If the plaintiff rejects the offer, how does he/she survive financially while awaiting case resolution? This is where lawsuit funding becomes a good idea.
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