James Wilkerson died on Dec 4, 2009. But it wasn't until Feb 2012 that a jury gave him a $4.8 million award for a workplace accident that literally gutted him in 2005. Back in Sept 2005, a pallet truck accident left Wilkerson seriously injured in the abdomen.
To start with, surgeons removed part of his small intestine. But then complications resulted and eventually left Wilkerson without 80 percent of his intestines. He was unable to digest enough food so he had to be given nutrients directly via total parenteral nutrition and that caused infections which eventually resulted in his death in 2009.
His employer Campbell’s Express was held responsible for the accident by the jury, with Wilkerson partially responsible. The award was thus lowered to take into account Wilkerson's own negligence.
The award included $2 million in medical expenses, $1.5 million for pain and suffering, $108,000 for lost wages and $400,000 for other financial losses. In addition, the jury gave Mrs. Wilkerson another $500,000 for the loss of her husband between the injury and his death.
On top of this, the family got almost a million from a company that was servicing the pallet trucks and also agreed to a confidential agreement with the pallet truck manufacturer which provided an additional undisclosed amount.
Note that there was no amount awarded for his wrongful death. No doubt his family would have wanted Wilkerson to still be around to know that justice was delivered, and his employer would have had less guilt on its hands. But one cannot help but wonder if Wilkerson was short-changed even in death.
If James Wilkerson had died right away, he would not have suffered an agonizing and slow death over a four year period, and his family too would have suffered less, spent less on medical expenses and gotten a much higher wrongful death settlement award instead of the disability award they eventually got "after" James Wilkerson died.
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