Tara Berendes, who was critically injured in a fiery Utah auto accident June 1 2004 soon after getting married in California, has been awarded $1.5 million from the estate of a Utah driver who died after striking her vehicle head-on. According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, in addition to that money, Tara Berendes will receive $1 million from the insurer of the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and a contractor, Geneva Rock Products Inc., who was doing work in the section of the freeway where the accident occurred.
According to court records, Thad Goodman was northbound on the I-15, traveling at 75 mph, when he lost control of his vehicle crossed over the median and slammed into the Berendes’ vehicle. Berendes’ attorney argued that median barriers should have been set up to prevent such head-on collisions in that section of the roadway, where work was in progress to construct HOV lanes. But UDOT and Geneva Rock Products, claimed that Goodman was totally at fault and they had placed barrels and construction warning signs in the are to caution motorists. Both Berendes and her husband suffered catastrophic injuries in the automobile crash.
The Utah Department of Transportation and the construction company did the right thing by settling with this couple. In this case, the couple was successfully able to go after the estate of the deceased man who caused the auto accident. They were also able to go after the governmental agency and the construction company that failed to make the construction zone safe for motorists. By failing to make the area safe, they created a dangerous roadway condition.
The woman, who was more seriously hurt, was reportedly in a coma for 20 days and also had facial burns. The money that this couple received will likely barely cover medical expenses and leave little or nothing to cover lost wages, lost enjoyment of life or pain and suffering. Both sides to the litigation compromised dramatically to come to this resolution. Our justice system works.