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Woman awarded $14 million for injuries suffered in crash

She was just a high school girl when she was hit in a terrible motor vehicle accident and her life was changed forever.

Now 22 years old, the woman was recently awarded $14 million in a personal injury lawsuit, WXOX of La Crosse reports.

The Pennsylvania woman's left leg was amputated after a school bus struck her back in January of 2007.

According to National Transportation Safety Board investigators, the school bus driver hit the vehicle's accelerator rather than the brake, causing the bus to crash into a group of students.

The driver disputes that contention, but the school district admitted it was liable for the accident before the woman's trial began.

Under Pennsylvania law, awards against school districts and cities, towns and counties are limited to $500,000.

Seven other injured students have also sued the school district over injuries they sustained in the crash. According to the law, the school district is liable, at most, for a total of $500,000 for all of the cases.

So the woman's award could be reduced substantially to fit under the state's cap, though her attorney hopes to negotiate a higher settlement with the district.

He said it's also possible his client will challenge the constitutionality of the damages cap.

The award in the case includes $3 million for past and future medical expenses, as well as $11 million for pain and suffering the woman endured as a result of her injuries.

She spent a month in an induced coma after the crash.

She told the court that the amputation has "disfigured" her and left her battling depression.

She's also had difficulty using a prosthetic leg and uses a wheelchair or crutches to move around.

Source: WXOX: "Pa. jury: $14M for school bus crash, amputation," Maryclaire Dale, Dec. 5, 2011

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