A 22-year-old Oxon Hill woman, who suffered permanent scars to her face in a two-vehicle accident in which the driver of the other vehicle pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter, received a $350,000 settlement yesterday from the insurance company representing the other driver's employer.
Elizabeth Adams Dodgson, who was 19 at the time of the accident in April 1980, will receive $150,000 in cash and the rest of the settlement over the next 20 years in installments of $843 a month, according to attorneys for both sides after a hearing in the Prince George's County Circuit Court at which the settlement was announced.
Dodgson and a friend, Janet Herbert, were traveling south on Rte. 197 near Bowie in Prince George's County when their car was struck by a pickup truck driven by Wesley Pates. Attorneys said Pates' truck, which was going north, had crossed the center line. Herbert was killed in the accident. Dodgson, a passenger in the car, was thrown through the windshield.
Pates, who then lived in Laurel and was driving a truck belonging to his employer at the time, Universal Construction, was charged with drunk driving, crossing the center line and manslaugter by auto, according to Dodgson's attorney, James Lombardi. Pates pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served seven months in jail, according to court records. The drunk driving and crossing-the-center-line charges were dropped.
"I'm just relieved," Dodgson said yesterday.
"It's hard to say when a life is involved what amount is just. It's not something you can put a price on," she said. Dodgson said she would like to use the money from her settlement to move from Prince George's County and return to school to study oceanography.