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Sailor Awarded $150,000 in Damages for Loss of Smell and Taste

The United States District Court for the State of Massachusetts has awarded a sailor $150,000 in damages for past and future pain and suffering, as well as loss of the enjoyment of life, after losing her full sense of smell and taste following a two-vessel collision.
39-year-old Julianne Marie Evans took part in a sailing competition when she sustained her injury. The injury occurred while Evans’ vessel was approaching a buoy alongside another vessel, controlled by Donncha Kiely. In attempting to turn her vessel around the buoy, Kiely swung her boom from the port side to starboard side of her vessel. Unfortunately, Evans was next to the starboard aft corner of Kiely’s vessel. In swinging her boom from port to starboard, Kiely made her boom strike Evans in the neck, causing her to fall forward into the cockpit. Evans went in and out of consciousness for approximately ten minutes.
Evans then visited different doctors to assess her injuries. As these doctors appointments continued, Evans began to lose her sense of smell and taste. She visited Dr. Norman Mann of the University of Connecticut, where she underwent a series of tests related to taste and smell. After a three day test period she received a diagnosis of a permanent loss of taste and smell.
At trial, the defendant argued that the injuries did not have a major impact on Evans’ enjoyment of life because she delayed reporting and treating the injury. The Court disagreed, however, stating that Evans has “undeniably lost the pleasure of having a full sense of smell and taste.” Evans herself testified that she lost her enjoyment of “gardening, eating, particularly in restaurants, entertaining at home by cooking.” The jury ultimately returned a verdict totaling $150,000 in damages for Ms. Evans.
It is important that all mariners to immediately report the full extent of their injuries to their doctor. Late reporting of symptoms may provide the defense with arguments about causation between the injury and the event. The uncertainty may lessen the amount an injured claimant may deserve. Discovering new injuries later often takes away from a mariner’s credibility and therefore his or her claim, as it did for this case. Anyone with questions regarding this case or any injury sustained while working aboard a vessel may contact the Law Office of Beard Stacey Trueb and Jacobsen, LLP to learn your rights and options. To contact us, please call 206.282.3100 or visit our website at www.atsealawyer.com.