Ontario Superior Court approves settlement for victim of fatal traumatic brain injury

He had no work history to base a claim for loss of income or competitive advantage

Ontario Superior Court approves settlement for victim of fatal traumatic brain injury

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has approved a settlement agreement involving a victim who suffered a fatal brain injury from a nighttime accident.

In Duffy v. McDaniel, 2024 ONSC 1479, Stephen Duffy, who suffered a traumatic brain injury along with multiple fractures, soft tissue injuries, and lacerations of his spleen and liver after being struck by a car, has settled his legal action. The collision occurred as Duffy was crossing Hazeldean Road in dark conditions, wearing dark clothing, and not at a crosswalk.

Duffy was 34 years old at the time of the collision. He had no work or income history to base a claim for loss of income or competitive advantage.  Duffy’s lack of a measurable work history is a factor that contributed to the potential for a jury to take a negative view of Stephen and his pre-accident lifestyle.

The Ontario Superior Court noted that given Duffy’s age at the time of the collision and the significant impairments resulting from his injuries, the firm obtained an assessment of his cost of future care, which totals an eight-figure amount. That assessment is based on Duffy’s needs, which are measured by a rehabilitation professional and an annuity value.

Following negotiations that included pleadings and mediation, a tentative settlement was reached, with only Stephen Duffy and his daughter Adriana set to receive settlement funds. Both are considered parties under disability, requiring court approval for their settlements. MG Law LLP represented the plaintiffs according to contingency fee retainer agreements.

The court reviewed the proposed settlements, considering various factors such as liability limits, the potential for full responsibility on Duffy's part, and his pre-accident lifestyle. Despite these considerations, the court acknowledged the challenges Duffy faced, including the significant hurdles on the issue of liability and other "contextual factors" negotiated during the settlement.

Stephen Duffy's settlement includes $901,957.06 covering damages, pre-judgment interest, and costs, with a notable portion allocated to his future care needs. The court considered the complexities involved, including the impact of Duffy's pre-accident actions and lifestyle on the negotiations.

The settlement totalled $48,042.94 for Adriana Duffy, acknowledging the same risks and considerations as Stephen's claims. Ultimately, the court approved the settlement for both Duffy and Adriana.

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