At Quatrini Rafferty, every day we talk with and work to protect the rights of people who are injured in an instant and have their lives changed forever. The news media tells us about motor vehicle collisions that occur on our highways, but very rarely do you hear about how significantly those motor vehicle collisions impact the victims and the families of victims of motor vehicle collisions. There is finally a story in the news that gives us some details about how painful the road to recovery can be after an injury.
The Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association has chosen to award Brenda Gump with its Comeback Award of 2014. The news report on this story, which is shared below, tells you how significantly Brenda Gump's life has changed since her injury. She is an inspiration.
Even with her significant injuries, you will see that Mrs. Gump had to take her case to trial in order to obtain a verdict to get funds to help her with the care she needs. She continues to move forward with her care. The jury verdict she had to fight for will help her with the care she needs after her critical injuries. Trial lawyers have helped Brenda Gump and continue to help so many people like her who are injured, through no fault of their own. We are inspired by her story.
Finleyville car crash victim's recovery nets comeback award from trial lawyers association
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
A serious car accident on the way to her daughter's wedding rehearsal put Brenda Gump in a coma for six weeks and left her with no short-term memory.
Four years later, Gump, 56, of Finleyville in Washington County plays cards, board games and crossword puzzles. Although she needs around-the-clock supervision, she's able to walk with a cane and visits a brain injury recovery group and personal trainer once a week.
Her recovery earned her the Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association 2014 Comeback Award, which she'll receive Thursday at the Grand Concourse restaurant in Station Square. The association will donate $1,000 to The Brain Recovery Crew, a Bethel Park nonprofit, in her honor.
"Just the fact that she's alive is amazing," said Anthony Mengine, Gump's lawyer. Last month, she won a $15.8 million verdict against the Connecticut construction company that a civil jury found partially responsible for the accident. "She's come way back."
Gump does not remember the June 11, 2010, accident along Route 51 in Pleasant Hills. She doesn't remember that her four children are married and don't live with her anymore. And she doesn't know her grandchildren, all of whom were born after the accident.
"With such a significant brain injury, she's brought back to an almost childlike state," said her daughter, Dana Gump, 31, of Finleyville, who eventually got married a year after the accident and is now a mother. "It's hard for her to express herself the way she would want to, and from minute to minute, day to day, she'll call me - sometimes 10 times a day - because she doesn't remember.
"That's the biggest deficit. That's the biggest challenge."
Gump underwent surgery to remove part of her brain after the accident. Doctors told her family that she never would be able to walk, talk, feed or bathe herself again.
Dana Gump, an executive recruiter at Princeton One on the North Shore, said that was not acceptable to her family or her mother.
"She put up a tremendous fight, and she still does to this day," she said.
The collision occurred as Gump's son, Daniel, tried to turn left from Route 51 to Primanti Bros. restaurant, where Dana Gump's rehearsal dinner was scheduled. A driver in the left lane allowed him to turn, but did not see a pickup approaching.
"Even as I saw the crash, I couldn't let myself believe it was happening," Dana Gump said. "You go from the highest point - getting married in a few hours - to thinking your mother may have passed away."
Dana Gump said her family sued Lane Construction Corp., PennDOT and the driver of the other vehicle because mounting medical bills became too expensive for the family to handle.
When PennDOT and the other driver settled with the family before trial, Lane became responsible for all $15.8 million.
The company has not paid, and the case remains on appeal, Mengine said. A Lane official did not return calls for comment.
Dana Gump said her mother's injuries have made life difficult.
Brenda Gump once did everything for her kids; now they're the ones who must be responsible for her, she said. It has brought the family closer than ever.
"You see things in a different light now. Every kiss she gets from her grandkids, every little thing," she said. "Unfortunately, until something is taken from you, you don't always appreciate it to the fullest."
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or[email protected].