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Rav4 car wreck
Rigel Welk was in the passenger seat of this RAV4 when it was sideswiped by a dump truck in February 2011. (Submitted photo)

Jury awards $750K to passenger in crash

A Harford County jury has awarded almost $750,000 to a former Ellicott City resident who was injured when the car she was riding in was sideswiped by a dump truck carrying 22 tons of concrete.

Rigel Welk will receive $684,000 in noneconomic damages as part of the jury award, an amount that is below the cap under Maryland law.

The February 2011 accident occurred at the intersection of Pulaski Highway and Robinhood Road, according to the complaint. Welk was in the passenger seat of a Toyota RAV4 driven by her then-husband, according to the complaint.

While the car was stopped at a red light in the left lane, Welk unbuckled her seat belt and turned around to grab her wallet from the back seat, according to Mark E. Rosasco, her lawyer.

Welk noticed the truck, owned by Bel Air-based Maryland Portable Concrete Inc., was going too fast to slow down in time to avoid an accident, according to Rosasco. The truck’s driver, William Scott Garvey Sr., swerved to the left to avoid a direct collision, Rosasco said. But the RAV4 ended up with damage on rear driver’s side, most likely caused by the metal arm holding down the tarp on top of the truck, he said.

“It looks like somebody took a can opener to the back left side,” said Rosasco, a partner with Hyatt & Weber P.A. in Annapolis.

The impact of the accident threw Welk forward into the dashboard and windshield of the RAV4, he said.

“Her description of the accident is that it was quite violent,” he said, adding that Welk still would have been injured had she been sitting upright with her seat belt on. Welk’s husband, Daniel Ramsey, suffered minor injuries in the accident.

Welk suffered several herniated disks as a result of the accident, according to Rosasco. A neurosurgeon decided against performing major back surgery on Welk, who is now 29, because it would have meant more surgeries as she got older and instead suggested she stop working “to save her back,” Rosasco said.

Welk now walks with a limp and is in “constant discomfort,” according to Rosasco. She and Ramsey, who were married for just four months at the time of the accident, both had to give up their jobs after the accident and then lost the lease on a farm they owned, Rosasco said. The couple has since divorced. Ramsey has remarried, and Welk now lives in Kentucky and works part-time as a waitress, Rosasco said.

Andrew T. Nichols, a lawyer for the defendants, did not respond to a request for comment. Nichols is a partner with Rollins, Smalkin, Richards & Mackie LLC in Baltimore.

According to Rosasco, the defense argued it was not liable. But Judge Stephen M. Waldron ruled the defendants were liable for the accident, leaving the jury to decide on damages, Rosasco said.

After a three-day trial, jurors deliberated for just three hours before returning with a verdict on May 21. Rosasco said his client was pleased with the outcome.

“She was crying,” he said. “Her whole life was devastated by this thing.”

 

RIGEL WELK V. WILLIAM SCOTT GARVEY SR., ET AL.

Court:

Harford County Circuit Court

Case No.:

12C13002815

Judge:

Stephen M. Waldron

Outcome:

Verdict for plaintiff of $743,000: $684,000 for noneconomic damages; $40,000 for future medical expenses; $16,000 for past medical expenses; $3,000 for pre-impact fright

Dates:

Event: Feb. 10, 2011

Suit filed: Sept. 5, 2013

Verdict: May 21, 2014

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys:

Mark E. Rosasco of Hyatt & Weber P.A. in Annapolis and Alex Poberesky, Pikesville solo practitioner

Defendants’ Attorneys:

Andrew T. Nichols and Catherine A.B. Simanski of Rollins, Smalkin, Richards & Mackie LLC in Baltimore

Counts:

Negligence