Personal injury lawyer David M. Carter, with Gould Cooksey Fennell in Vero Beach, Fla., landed a $9.4 million verdict in May for a client who was seriously injured when a car plowed into his motorcycle. Carter recently discussed the case with us.
“We have never been more honored to represent a client,” said Carter. “He was inspirational. The doctors who pieced him back together described him as one of the most severely injured patients they have ever treated. That notwithstanding, he took every opportunity to put a positive spin on what he was able to do.”
Leslie Opper, a 41-year-old roofer at the time of the accident, was riding his motorcycle toward an intersection on April 11, 2009, when he was hit nearly head-on by a car turning left. Opper flew into the car’s windshield. The driver, 91-year-old William Exton, pled guilty to violation of right-of-way involving serious bodily injury, Carter said.
“Mr. Exton admitted liability on the eve of trial,” said Carter, who tried the case along with law partners Brian Connelly and Jason Odom. “Two eyewitnesses testified that he turned directly into Mr. Opper’s path without stopping or using his blinker.”
Opper spent months in the hospital, undergoing multiple surgeries and developing an infection in his back. Extensive physical therapy left him able to walk only short distances, with a walker or crutches, and still in need of pain medication, said Carter.
“The most difficult thing for Leslie Opper is the recognition of just how much his life has been changed forever,” said Carter. “Prior to this crash, he was an active father, hardworking roofer and avid outdoorsman who often dove to 100 feet or more to spear fish and catch lobster.
“Mr. Opper would like nothing more than to work again, and is hoping to be able to find something vocationally to add meaning to his life. However, all of his doctors believe he will be totally disabled in terms of being employable in the competitive work force.”
Opper is struggling to return to a life as close to normal as possible, even modifying an underwater scooter for a trip back into the ocean. But it’s an uphill battle.
“He knows that no matter how positive he is or how hard he tries, he will never have a life that even slightly resembles what he had before,” said Carter. “He is a glass-half-full person, but that glass has been shattered.”
Carter is a Florida Super Lawyers listee. Read the new 2012 Florida Super Lawyers & Rising Stars magazine here.