Woman awarded more than $300K over collision with postal vehicle in North Smithfield

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – A Connecticut woman whose car was struck by a vehicle owned by the U.S. Postal Service while driving in North Smithfield was awarded more than $300,000 in damages this month by a federal judge.

Nancy Ernest of Sterling, Conn., was reportedly driving her 2008 Nissan Ultima on Victory Highway in 2019 when she was struck from behind by a truck driven by an on-duty employee delivering mail, Hugo Toll. She underwent hip replacement surgery about a year and a half after the collision, in September 2020.

A bookkeeper for St. Antoine’s Community in North Smithfield, Ernest said she could no longer work as a result of the accident and surgery that followed. She filed a lawsuit against the United States under the Federal Torts Claims Act.

Her surgeon, Dr. Scott Stanat, testified to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the collision was a substantial aggregating factor for the cause of her hip degeneration and need for a hip replacement.

In a 16-page decision, U.S. District Court Chief Judge John McConnell said that while Ernest, who was 62-years-old at the time of the accident, had underlying exacerbating factors that contributed to her need for surgery, injuries caused by the collision were also a substantial factor.

The judgement included $12,580 in lost wages, $59,354 in medical expenses and $300,000 for pain and suffering.

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