The New Jersey Appellate Court has upheld a June 2010 verdict I obtained on behalf of one of my clients who sustained a traumatic brain injury following a serious motor vehicle collision in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. At the time, of the incident, my client was an investment banker earning approximately $900,000 per year. At the time of trial, my client was earning approximately $1.4 million per year.
It was our contention that as a result of the cognitive impairments resulting in permanent cognitive disability, my client would be forced out of the work force much earlier had he not sustained this injury. In preparing and trying the case I retained vocational economic expert Anthony Gamboa, Ph.D., MBA, of Vocational Economics. Dr. Gamboa explained to the jury, that as a consequence of the permanent cognitive impairments following a mild traumatic brain injury, that although my client remained a high earner, that as a result of his disability he would be force out of the labor market much earlier than would have been expected.
The case involved claims against the New Jersey Department of Transportation as well as another co-defendant with whom plaintiff settled prior to trial. The case proceeded against the State of New Jersey, Department of Transportation. The jury returned a gross verdict in the amount of $3.6 million dollars, which was reduced to $1.44 million, representing the 40% negligence the jury found against the State of New Jersey and its employee.
The New Jersey Law Journal summarized the case as follows:
ECONOMIC DAMAGES ARE AFFIRMED THOUGH PLAINTIFF’S EARNINGS ROSE AFTER ACCIDENT
On Thursday, The Appellate Division let stand a $1.44 million award for economic damages from an auto accident even though the plaintiff’s earnings climbed steadily after the crash. The panel rejected the defense contention that the jury should not have heard expert testimony on economic damages because plaintiff did not prove a loss of earning capacity. The expert used U.S. Census data showing that male workers of the plaintiff’s age, with a professional degree and a cognitive disability, earn an average of 6 percent less per year and work an average of 7.1 fewer years than nondisabled counterparts. But as the plaintiff’s robust earnings showed he did not suffer a "substantial" loss, he is ineligible for noneconomic damages against the state under the Tort Claims Act, the court said. A link to the appellate division decision can be found here.