Crime & Courts

Sedgwick County to pay more than $450,000 to woman hurt in crash with dump truck

Sedgwick County will pay more than $450,000 to a woman who suffered serious injuries when her car was hit by a county dump truck, officials said Tuesday.

County government won’t appeal the damages awarded by a federal jury earlier this month to Karrie Oxford.

Her lawsuit, filed in June 2018, stemmed from a March 14, 2016, wreck on West Street south of I-235 where a county dump truck driven by Jacob Riddle crashed into Oxford’s vehicle.

“Liability wasn’t an issue, our guy was clearly at fault,” County Counselor Mike Pepoon said.

The court case was about how much Oxford should be awarded for damages, he said.

The jury ruled that Oxford would need lifetime medical care because of injuries suffered in the accident, he said.

Oxford’s attorney, Dustin DeVaughn of DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers, alleged carelessness and negligence, inattentive operation of a motor vehicle, failure to keep a proper lookout, failure to use ordinary care, failure to give warning, following too closely and failure to take evasive action.

Pepoon said it’s the largest jury verdict he could remember in his 31 years with the county’s legal department.

It exceeded the $425,000 the county settled for with families of three people killed when a missing stop sign caused a crash on Christmas Eve in 1997.

Oxford had requested more than $1.3 million in damages, the bulk of which was nearly $562,000 in future medical expenses.

A federal jury at Wichita’s U.S. Courthouse found Oct. 10 that Oxford suffered a total loss of $456,245 in economic, non-economic, medical and other expenses.

Pepoon said the lawyer who defended the county in the case advised against appealing the verdict. County commissioners didn’t want to appeal it either, so the judgment will simply be paid, he said.

Pepoon said the county is self-insured for traffic accidents but the judgment exceeds the amount in its claims fund. Commissioners will have to take a public vote at a future meeting to transfer money from county contingency funds to cover the shortfall, he said.

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Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.