Woman struck in crosswalk files suit

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BRATTLEBORO — The pedestrian who was struck by a car on Western Avenue in July 2016 is suing the driver for more than $300,000.

On the morning of July 29, 2016, Denise Rivers was walking her dog across a crosswalk on Western Avenue in the vicinity of Interstate 91's Exit 2 when she was hit.

Drivers of two vehicles had stopped to let Rivers cross when Patricia DeAngelo passed those cars on the right and collided with Rivers, according to a report by Brattleboro Police Officer

Timmie Vinton. Rivers was left with serious head and leg injuries. Her dog was also injured.

"Ms. Rivers is recovering, but she still has daily struggles in different areas," said attorney Michael Stevens.

Stevens is representing Rivers in her suit against DeAngelo, now 83, of Marlboro.

"I don't want to get into details, but Ms. Rivers has ongoing health concerns," Stevens said.

In January 2017, DeAngelo pleaded no contest to a charge of careless or negligent driving. She received a suspended sentence of 30 to 60 days and was fined $500 and assessed $220 in court costs.

Stevens, of Derrevere Stevens Black & Cozad, told the Reformer that because DeAngelo's insurance coverage only allowed for a $25,000 payout for injuries,

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Rivers' insurance, issued by Vermont Mutual, covered the cost of her injuries.

"Vermont Mutual paid a significant amount of money related to Ms. Rivers' injuries," Stevens said. "About $325,000."

Rivers had been advised not to accept any payments from DeAngelo's insurance provider because it would have prohibited her from pursuing DeAngelo for the actual cost of care, said Stevens.

While Rivers is named the plaintiff in the suit, Vermont Mutual hired Stevens to represent both her and its own interests. The insurance company is seeking compensation from DeAngelo for the money it spent on Rivers' care.

Rivers was covered by the uninsured/underinsured provision of her vehicle insurance. In most states, including Vermont, uninsured/underinsured vehicle coverage extends to the holder even if that person is a pedestrian, said Stevens.

Thomas Aicher, of Cleary Shahi & Aicher, which is representing DeAngelo, had no comment.

In a response filed in Windham Superior Court in Newfane, Aicher contended the accident was "unavoidable" and an "act of God" and that any injuries suffered by Rivers were the result "of the acts and/or omissions of a person or persons other than the defendants."

The case is headed for mediation, as required by law in Vermont, on Tuesday.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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