By Associated Press - Friday, May 22, 2015

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) - A northwest Indiana jury has awarded $32.5 million to a woman with a traumatic brain injury that left her partially paralyzed nine years ago when the car she was a passenger in struck a disabled semi-trailer on an interstate.

The Lake County jury determined that the driver of the car, 40-year-old Kristen Zak of Dyer, was a passenger in and was 40 percent responsible for the collision, while J.B. Hunt Transport Inc. and its driver, Terry Brown Jr., were 60 percent liable.

The jury reached the verdict Wednesday following a three-week trial before Superior Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider.

Zak’s attorney, Todd Schafer, said at a news conference Thursday the crash occurred on Interstate 65 near Remington, about 60 miles south of Gary, on Jan. 17, 2006. Shafer argued that Brown was traveling too fast for the wintry conditions and failed to abide by safety regulations, which required him to turn the flashers of the truck on and set out reflective triangles.

Zak was in a coma for a month and when she awoke she didn’t remember her fiance and thought she was still married to her ex-husband, Schafer said.

Zak’s mother, Peggy Skaggs, said her daughter, who was a registered nurse, has gained some independence though years of physical therapy, but she still needs help eating, getting dressed and other daily activities.

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