Kelly Seannee Smith was a seven-year-old second-grader at Gibson Elementary School in Forsyth County, North Carolina when she was clipped by a passing car as she tried to board the school bus, in January of 2013. Edward Rashad Lee Fulks, the driver of the car, was 17 at the time and on his way to high school. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the bus had its lights on and stop sign extended. That didn’t stop Fulks from speeding around a car stopped in front of him, and past the school bus. When he did, the passenger side mirror struck Kelly in the face and neck. Luckily, she was not seriously injured.
Kelly’s father, Kerry Smith Sr., decided to file a lawsuit last year against Fulks. Kelly, now 10, has experienced bad dreams as a result of the incident and has had to receive counseling. This is in addition to the medical bills, which have accumulated to the tune of nearly $20,000.
“She has come a long way,” her father said. “I’m positive that she will be much better in the near future. Time will make the difference.”
Time — and a little restitution. As the Winston-Salem Journal also reported last Monday, the two sides have come to a settlement agreement. Even though Fulks will ultimately pay $81,000, it is probably the best possible outcome, considering the plaintiff wins in over 90% of cases that go to trial. He also could have faced up to 17 months in prison. However, Smith’s lawyers would have had to prove causation and debate the long-term prognosis of her health in court.
A portion of the money will go towards Smith’s medical bills and attorney fees; Judge A. Moses Massey ruled that another $33,000 will be placed in an annuity until Kelly turns 18, when it will be paid out over the course of several years. Reportedly, he stepped down from the bench at the end of the trial to offer some advice to Kelly and her little brother, Kerry Smith Jr. He encouraged them to stay in school, and not to let the experience negatively impact their academics.