Former Las Vegas resident Richard McElfresh fought back tears Wednesday as he discussed a jury’s decision to award him about $3.5 million in a personal injury case.
“I still can’t believe it’s this much,” he said. “It’s been a long, long time.”
McElfresh suffered a spinal injury on March 5, 2004, when a motorist made an illegal left turn in front of his vehicle on Eastern Avenue, just north of the Las Vegas Beltway.
Attorney Robert Eglet said the other driver, Richard Steimer Jr. of Las Vegas, was cited at the scene. The lawyer said Steimer was insured by American National Property and Casualty Co., and his policy had a $250,000 limit.
“The insurance company could have settled the case for their policy limits five years ago, and they refused to do it,” Eglet said.
He predicted that the insurance company will end up paying a total of $5 million with the addition of interest, court costs and the plaintiff’s legal fees.
Steimer’s attorney, Dennis Prince, could not be reached for comment.
Eglet said jurors returned the verdict Tuesday night. District Judge Jackie Glass presided over the trial, which lasted more than two weeks.
McElfresh, a father of four, moved to Spokane, Wash., in January 2007. He lives there with his wife and his 10-year-old son from a previous marriage.
As a former athlete, McElfresh said he regrets that his injuries have left him unable to play catch with his son.
McElfresh, 40, said he graduated from Basic High School in 1987 and was employed by Southwest Airlines as a ramp supervisor at the time of the collision. The injuries he suffered in the crash led to back surgery in November 2005.
Eglet said McElfresh could not return to his job at Southwest Airlines after the surgery.
McElfresh said the jury verdict gives him the opportunity to start his life over. He said he now hopes to return to school and learn a new trade.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0264.