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Falmouth man suffered brain damage at Spotsy construction site
BY LINDLEY ESTES
Jacob Steele, who was seriously injured shortly after graduating from high school in 2000, has been awarded what his legal team at Emroch & Kilduff believe is the largest cash settlement of a workers’ compensation claim in Virginia.
The more than $6.2 million settlement was approved Sept. 4, some 12 years after Steele suffered a brain injury while working with William Hazel Construction Co. on Lansdowne Road, said a press release from the Richmond-based personal injury law firm.
The crew was pumping water from a drainage ditch before installing a pipe at the Spotsylvania construction site, the victim’s father said.
The bilge pump, weighing about 45 to 50 pounds, was in the ditch and attached to a hose that stretched across Lansdowne Road. A pickup drove over the hose, snagging it and jerking the pump out of the ditch. It struck Steele on the side of the head.
Steele, then 18, was rendered comatose and then spent a month in the intensive care unit at Mary Washington Hospital. He also spent six weeks of inpatient rehabilitation at The Children’s Hospital in Richmond.
The accident occurred at his first job after graduating from Fredericksburg Christian School.
Steele, who lived in Falmouth, would have begun community college a few months later.
Steele received 500 weeks of workers’ compensation benefits. A permanent and total disability claim was filed with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission entitling him to receive weekly benefits for the remainder of his life.
After this claim, attorney Craig B. Davis, who represented Steele beginning in 2005, began negotiations with the insurance carrier that lasted more than 18 months and resulted in the $6.2 million settlement.
From this settlement an annuity will provide $234,989 to fund a Medicare Set-Aside. The remaining $6 million was paid in cash and will be used to fund a Special Needs Trust for Steele.
Fredericksburg attorney Walter J. Sheffield was named as Steele’s conservator and trustee of the Special Needs Trust. Efforts to reach Sheffield on Friday were unsuccessful.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976