A student from South Carolina has been awarded $26 million compensation for car crash injuries after only barely surviving a rollover accident in 2009.
In July 2009, Jeremy Vangsnes (21) from Spartanburg in South Carolina was returning to the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board in Yellowstone National Park, after having visited relatives staying in the Glacier National Park with his two brothers – Ryan (19) and Daniel (23) – and a fellow missionary student Scott Minear (20), .
As the Jeep Cherokee driven by Minear approached Billings in Montana, the vehicle drifted over onto the grass on the side of the Interstate 90. Minear tried to correct the direction of the vehicle, but he over-compensated when trying to get the Jeep Cherokee back on the road and spun the vehicle over.
Jeremy was the most severely injured of the vehicle´s four occupants, sustaining a severe blunt force trauma to the head. He was initially declared dead at the scene of the accident before being airlifted to St. Vincent´s Hospital in Billings after paramedics noticed some brain activity.
After recovering sufficiently to be allowed home to continue his rehabilitation, Jeremy´s father claimed compensation for car crash injuries on behalf of his son. In his action against the North American Mission Board it was alleged that Jeremy was acting within the course and scope of his association with the mission group at the time.
The claim for compensation for car crash injuries was disputed by the North American Mission Board, and the case proceeded to the District Court in Montana where it was heard by District Judge Mike Salvagni.
At the hearing, Judge Salvagni heard Val Simmons – the head of student missionaries for the North American Mission Board – testify that the students had been allowed to make the journey to visit relatives subject to them maintaining the board´s lifestyle and policy guidelines at all times.
Based on Simmons´ testimony, the judge ruled in Jeremy´s favor and awarded him $26 million compensation for car crash injuries. The award was made without an admission of liability by the North American Mission Board, and the Board´s insurers have said that it will not contest the award.