$36-m judgement

Woman gets multimillion-dollar award 3 years after being hit by motor car

Observer staff reporter

Friday, March 16, 2018

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A motorist who lost control of his vehicle and hit an 18-year-old woman three years ago, leaving her without full function in her left arm and barely able to walk, has been ordered to pay a $36.2-million judgement.

Jonel Francis, who is now 22 years old, was victorious in the lawsuit filed against Sheldon Bryan after her lawyer, Jason Jones, successfully argued that the defendant was driving fast and in a negligent manner.

Francis, who was standing on the side of the road near her gate, on Howard Avenue in May Pen, Clarendon, was struck on December 31, 2014 about 10:00 pm after Bryan lost control of a Honda Civic motor car he was driving, drove off the road, and slammed into her.

Francis, who was examined by doctors at Kingston Public and May Pen hospitals, sustained injuries that resulted in moderate traumatic brain damage, seizures, post-traumatic headaches, blurry vision, and her losing function in her left arm from the elbow down to her fingers and barely being able to walk.

The judgement was handed down last week, on March 6 and 9, in the Supreme Court by Justice Calys Wiltshire, who ruled that Jones should be paid $30 million for general damages for pain and suffering, plus three per cent per annum interest from November 14, 2016 to March 8 of this year; $175,000 for special damages plus interest at three per cent per annum from December 31, 2014 to March 8, 2018; $4,761,700 for handicap on the labour market; and $100,000 in costs to the claimant.

The insurance company, which had insured Bryan's car, GK General Insurance Company Limited, has agreed to pay the policy limit on the vehicle for third party bodily injury to any one person, which is $2 million.

Francis, who was a bartender at the time of the crash and had her eyes set on attending university, said she will no longer be able to pursue her dreams of becoming a journalist or a writer.

“My life has changed significantly since the accident, several basic activities of daily living now present a problem. I have difficulty getting dressed, preparing meals on my own, and several other things that require proper movement and use of both hands,” she said in the lawsuit.

However, when contacted yesterday, Francis was in good spirits about the victory.

“I am feeling very good. This win means I now have a chance of living comfortably, despite the fact that it has left me with permanent incapacitation. It also means that, despite the fact that I may not be able to work, I [won't] have to worry about certain expenses,” she said.

Francis, who is unable to walk for long distances, told the Jamaica Observer that she plans to invest in a business on receiving the bulk of her award.

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