Tragic Traffic Case For Mary Ward Settled For $2.5 Million

HAROLD - August 10, 2006, started out as another great summer day for Mary A. Ward of Harold, a day that would see Mary - 22 years old at the time - register for nursing classes at Mayo so she could become a nurse like her mother, Janice Ward.

Everything went as planned at first. Mary drove her Cougar coupe to Paintsville and by 4:30p.m. she had completed her enrollment, got her class schedule, and started home, traveling on KY 321 to the intersection with U.S. 23 at Turner Branch, a place where a tragic accident would spare her young life but would leave her a mere shadow of her former effervescent self.

At approximately 5:00p.m., Mary's little car was struck on U.S. 23 by a big tractor-trailer owned by a South Carolina company and operated by George Hand of Lithonia, Georgia. Mary was air-lifted to Saint Mary's Hospital at Huntington where she fought for her life and where a team of doctors and nurses fought to keep her alive.

After eleven weeks of intensive hospital care, followed by many more weeks of convalescent attention, Mary was released home. Unfortunately, the crash had been so violent that Mary requires constant attention, is totally disabled and is house-confined. Home care for Mary has been rendered by her mother, Janice Ward, and by her grandmother, Barbara Kidd and her grandfather, Fred Kidd, until his recent death.

Following the accident, Janice Ward unsuccessfully sought legal assistance. "I knew we needed help," she said. "I visited a prominent law firm in Pikeville, but was turned down. They could not help me, they said. I visited another prominent law firm in Lexington. Same thing. So, I gave up thinking they knew what they were talking about. Then, one day my brother, Jerry (Kidd), said he had told Loyce Kirk about the situation and told me that Loyce wanted me to see her husband, John Kirk, to see if he could help me. Only two weeks were left to do something before the two years was up. I met with Mr. Kirk who read the letters I had from the two previous lawyers. He told me that they were probably correct, but that he would see if he could help me. He filed the case for me and things started happening," Janice Ward said. "I believe it was fate that Jerry told Loyce about what happened."

"Mary was hit by a huge truck on US 23," John C. Kirk said. "Was the truck traveling at the speed limit or was it going fast like they often do. The truck was traveling north coming down a hill toward a flashing caution light at Turner Branch, a very dangerous intersection. We filed it and went to work," Kirk said.

Part of "going to work" included Kirk's publication in this paper of a Message to Witnesses requesting that eye witnesses come forward. "That cracked the case," Kirk said. "Katrina Mohl and John Harmon saw what happened and became Mary's voice. They saw this huge truck going down hill at, they both estimated, 80 miles per hour. After that we discovered that the truck driver had a number of speeding citations, including one after he hit Mary, and that he was finally fired by his company for getting speeding citations," Kirk added.

Last week, a settlement mediation was held and Mary's case was settled for $2.5 million.

"As far as the legal system is concerned," Kirk said, "justice was done, but nothing in this world could ever start to make up for what happened to this young woman who was in the beginning of what should have been a long and good normal life. I'm happy that she continues to improve. Thank God for her supportive family who have rendered constant care for her. We feel privileged to have helped them."

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