Ashley Zauflik who is now 22, was hit by a school bus when she was in high school back in January of 2007 and lost her left leg. She was awarded $14 million by a jury in December of 2011. However, reports say the award will likely be reduced under an unjust state law.
Zauflik spent a month in a medically-induced coma and had her leg amputated after the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation said that the driver stepped on the accelerator, not the brake, before crashing into a crowd of students during dismissal at a local high school.
The driver had disputed that finding, but the School District admitted liability before trial.
The jury award includes $11 million for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, and about $3 million for the past and future medical expenses. The award will pay for better prosthetic devices that will allow the Plaintiff to be more active.
According to reports, the trial judge is expected to reduce the award to $500,000, the cap allowed under a 1980 Pennsylvania law that protects municipalities and school districts.
The lawyer representing the Plaintiff will attempt to negotiate a higher settlement with the district and, if unsuccessful, appeal the cap to the state Supreme Court.
Zauflik testified that the crash left her “disfigured” and struggling with depression. She has had trouble using a prosthetic leg and relies on crutches or a wheelchair to move.
The $500,000 cap will apply to all awards that is granted from that incident. Seven others have sued over injuries from the crash. If the cap is upheld, Zauflik could have to share the $500,000 with any others who are successful with their claims.