Crash victim gets $1.8M


POSTED: Friday, March 27, 2009

A state jury on Kauai deliberated just three hours before awarding nearly $1.8 million to a woman who was permanently injured when she was knocked off the back of a motorcycle and run over by a car in Hanalei in 2005.

The jury awarded Lisa Wilson $37,100 for lost income and $1.75 million in general damages in her lawsuit against the car driver, Byron Say.

Wilson's lawyer, Teresa Tico, said Say admitted liability prior to trial and agreed to pay about $100,000 for Wilson's past and future medical bills. And the insurance company of the mother of the woman who rented the car and loaned it to Say agreed to a “;modest”; settlement, Tico said.

“;This was nice,”; the 52-year-old Wilson said.

Jurors started deliberation March 18, and the verdict came in three hours.

Just going to trial and having Say admit liability after 3 1/2 years was a victory for Wilson.

“;I finally got my say in court,”; she said.

That is because the state never took Say to trial.

Wilson said she was riding on the back of a motorcycle June 25, 2005, when Say rear-ended the motorcycle, knocking both her and the motorcycle operator into the air and onto the roadway. Say's car continued forward, wedging Wilson's helmet between the front bumper and the roadway and dragging Wilson's body.

The helmet got un-wedged when the strap broke, Wilson said, allowing the car's tires to run over her midsection.

Kauai police said Say then crashed the car into a guardrail and ran into a taro patch. They arrested him a short time later.

When Say went to court in August 2005, the state had only charged him with operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, a traffic violation, not a crime. Say pleaded no contest.

The Kauai prosecutor tried later to add felony charges of negligent injury and fleeing the scene of an accident. But the judge said it was too late because Say had already pleaded to a related charge. The following month the Kauai prosecutor charged Say with the crimes in a separate case, but another judge dismissed the charges.

Wilson said she suffered 20 rib fractures, two collapsed lungs and fractures to her shoulders, hips, pelvis and left leg. She also suffered a laceration to her spleen, which had to be removed. The motorcycle operator was not seriously injured.

Her left leg and both shoulders are still injured, Wilson said, but she is able to walk and drive. She said she has no use of her left arm because the injury damaged all the nerves in the shoulder, which now has a prosthesis. And she says she has limited movement in her left knee.

Before the crash, Wilson operated her own housekeeping business. She now teaches literacy to people undergoing vocational rehabilitation, as she did.