Posted: September 24th, 2013
A woman who suffered serious neck injuries when rear-ended by a Texas Forest Service employee has won a two-year battle against her own insurance company to recover compensation for a whiplash injury.
In April 2011, Brenda Nolen (51) from Texoma in Young County, Texas, was returning from a shopping trip when her Dodge pick-up was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by a Texas Forest Service employee who had fallen asleep at the wheel. The impact of the crash forced Brenda´s pick-up into a petrol pump on a garage forecourt, which burst into flames when she ran into it.
Brenda managed to escape from her burning vehicle with help from passers-by, but she suffered a broken arm, multiple burns and a serious whiplash injury in the accident. Brenda had to undergo multiple operations to repair the injury to her neck and was unable to drive or work for almost two years.
She made a claim for compensation for her whiplash injury against the Forest Service driver´s employers – the State of Texas – to cover her medical costs and to pay for a replacement vehicle. However, the State of Texas rejected her claim for compensation – stating that employees of the State Forest Service were immune from liability for any injuries or accidents caused while on their way to an emergency according to the Homeland Security Act.
Brenda then approached State Farm – her own insurance company – who declined her claim for whiplash injury compensation using the same anti-terrorist legislation. This was despite Brenda obtaining a statement from the Texas Forest Service employee to confirm that he had fallen asleep at the wheel of his vehicle and was not en route to an emergency.
With help from a solicitor, Brenda pursued her entitlement to compensation for a whiplash injury and, after threatening court action, her insurance company agreed to an undisclosed settlement which enabled Brenda to get a new car and cover most – but not all – of her medical expenses.