An Atco man who needs medical treatment is closer to receiving a multimillion-dollar settlement from Camden County after the Board of Freeholders agreed Thursday night to pay him $15 million.
Nicholas Anderson, 24, suffered permanent damage when one leg was severed and one arm was partially severed by a guardrail. It sliced through his car after he was forced off the county-maintained Raritan Road by an oncoming car as he was driving home one night in 2004.
"I'm in pain every day," Anderson said last year as his case was held up by appeals in court. He said he could not afford to see the experts needed for treatment.
Anderson and his lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday night.
As part of the settlement worked out with Anderson's attorney, the county will pay Anderson within four months, said County Attorney William Tambussi.
Tambussi said the settlement would save the county money and pay Anderson what he deserves.
"Mr. Anderson was seriously injured and entitled to a jury award," Tambussi said. "We wanted to be fair to him."
Anderson successfully sued Camden County, arguing that the road was dangerous because of a six-inch drop between the road and the shoulder, as well as the guardrail's design. Instead of absorbing the impact of the crash, the rail snapped. Officials have since installed properly designed guardrails throughout the county.
A jury awarded Anderson $31 million in damages in 2008, but a judge reduced the judgment to $19.3 million last year.
The county planned to appeal and the county's insurance carrier, State National, has been refusing to pay damages with the issues slowly moving through the legal system.
The county could have been assessed interest compounded daily if the case was not resolved. Freeholders decided to settle while the county continues to "vigorously" fight with State National to hold it accountable, Tambussi said.
"Through this settlement, the county has taken the necessary steps to mitigate its ongoing exposure, which was increasing at the rate of almost $3,000 a day," Tambussi said.
State National has sued numerous municipalities throughout the state, alleging the insurance company is not responsible in cases where local attorneys did not handle legal matters properly.