Tuesday night, a Candler woman, Jessica Renee Hall, 32, crashed her SUV into the barriers separating the outdoor patio from the parking lot at the Westville Pub in West Asheville. Hall intentionally rammed her vehicle into the huge metal radiators that create a wall beside the patio where patrons often enjoy their food and beverages.
Witnesses say that Hall backed her SUV up approximately 20 feet from the patio, then jammed the vehicle in drive and then accelerated toward Amy Nicole Roberts and several others on the patio. The collision pinned Roberts under the radiators and the front of the SUV, causing serious injuries to her left leg. Hall then backed the SUV up, screamed out the vehicle’s window, “that’s what you get for f+++++g with me, b+++h!” and fled the scene. A witness ran after the SUV and got the license tag number and called 911. Police later contacted Hall at her home, and she was subsequently arrested and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. She is out of jail on a $9,000 bond. The motive for the assault appears to be that Ms. Roberts was friends with Hall’s ex-husband.
Ms. Roberts is still in the hospital receiving treatment for her mangled left leg. Doctors are hopeful that she will recover to the point that she can use the leg again, but there is still a possibility that she might have to have the leg amputated. Doctors expect that she will need multiple surgeries to address the severity of her injuries.
Given the seriousness of the injury and the significant amount of medical bills Ms. Roberts has incurred, she certainly has a viable claim against Hall for personal injury. Since Hall acted intentionally in causing the injury, in that she was not just acting negligently or carelessly, Hall’s car insurance will not cover any of the harms and losses suffered by Ms. Roberts. Therefore, any recovery for Ms. Robert’s medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering will have to come directly from Hall. Given the maliciousness of Hall’s conduct, she would also be subject to a civil claim for punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and hopefully act as a deterrent for others not to engage in similar conduct. The amount that one can recover in punitive damages is generally capped by statute at 3 times the amount of compensatory damages (medical bills, lost wages, and pain & suffering) awarded by the jury.
In North Carolina, there is a one year statute of limitations for civil assault and battery claims. This means that the injured person only has one year in which to either resolve their claim with the wrongdoer or file a lawsuit. Failing to file a lawsuit in that one year period creates an absolute bar to recovery by the injured person, and any lawsuit filed after that time would be dismissed by the court as having not been filed prior to the tolling of the statute of limitations.
Claims against individuals in the situation where there is no insurance coverage are often not pursued because of the difficulties associated with trying to collect a court judgment from the wrongdoer. Unless an individual has cash in the bank or owns some real property (real estate), a court judgment is often of little or no real value. In this case, if Ms. Roberts sues Hall for her injuries and obtains a court judgment against her, then she could end up trying to collect that judgment from whatever assets Hall owns.
At Davis Law Group, we help those who are seriously injured by the negligent, reckless and/or intentional conduct of others. We have helped many clients overcome what, at first blush, appears to be overwhelming odds and make a successful recovery. For a free consultation, contact Attorney Brian Davis at 888-773-8388.