A motorist whose car was struck by a truck driven by a postal worker has been awarded more than $300,000 in damages by a federal judge.
The plaintiff, Nancy Ernest, was driving her 2008 Nissan Ultima in North Smithfield in 2019 when her car was struck from behind by a box truck driven by Hugo Toll, an on-duty employee of the U.S. Postal Service. The plaintiff underwent hip replacement surgery in September 2020, about a year and a half after the collision.
“Ms. Ernest has met her burden by a preponderance of the evidence to prove a causal connection between the collision and her hip replacement on September 16, 2020,” U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell found.
“While Ms. Ernest had underlying exacerbating factors that also contributed to her need for surgery, the injuries caused by the collision were a substantial factor as to the need for her surgery. The collision need not be the sole cause of the hip replacement, if it was a substantial factor, which the Court so finds,” the judge wrote.
Because Ernest had a certain physical condition before the collision, was 62 or “in a fragile state” did not excuse the government from its responsibility for her damages, McConnell added.
“Ms. Ernest has met her burden by a preponderance of the evidence to prove all necessary elements of her claim and of her damages as alleged. … Thus, the Court awards damages of $306,170, plus costs and post judgment interest as allowed by statute,” the judge wrote.