$2,005,000 for Woman Injured in Accident with Ambulance

DATE OF VERDICT
2006-12-13

COURT AND COUNTY
Supreme Kings

AGE AND OCCUPATION OF PLAINTIFF
33 year old Female, Bartender

DESCRIPTION OF CASE
Plaintiff and her boyfriend were taking a cab home to the Washington Heights in Manhattan. They hailed the cab, driven by defendant Gibbs, near a movie theater on 86th Street and 3rd Avenue. The cab proceeded in a westbound direction across town. Eventually defendant Gibbs reached the intersection of 97th Street and 5th Avenue. Gibbs was driving west on 97th Street. The plaintiff and her boyfriend were wearing their seatbelts and talking in the backseat of the vehicle. As Gibbs approached the intersection, an ambulance being driven by defendant Helen Kasmis was proceeding southbound on 5th Avenue. Kasmis was accompanied by a fellow emergency medical technician named Peyton Dennis. Both worked for Transcare, a private ambulance company. They were leaving Mt. Sinai, slightly north of the intersection, and driving south to a nursing home to respond to a patient that was in critical condition. There was a light at the relevant intersection. Everyone agreed that the light was green in favor of Gibbs and the cab. However the ambulance was driving with the emergency lights and sirens to their destination. Kasmis claimed that she stopped at the intersection, repeatedly sounded the lights and sirens and then proceeded in to the intersection as Gibbs continued driving. She indicated that Gibbs initially slowed down but was still proceeding at between 20-25 mph as he entered the intersection. Kasmis indicated that she started to proceed through the intersection slowly and then accelerated when she realized that Gibbs was not going to stop. Gibbs, 79 years old at the time, indicated that he did not see the ambulance until the collision took place. The plaintiff and her boyfriend were not looking in the direction of the ambulance at the time of the accident and therefore did not see whether the ambulance had their lights and sirens on. The point of impact for the cab was the front end and the impact point for the ambulance is the mid-point of the drivers side. It was a very significant impact.

INJURIES/DAMAGES
The plaintiff was taken to Mt. Sinai hospital. She was treated for knee, head and lower back injuries. She began treatment with her orthopedic surgeon and a rigorous plan of physical therapy. Her doctor sent her for MRIs of both her left knee and her lumbar spine. The left knee film showed a meniscal tear and the lumbar spine showed herniations at L4-L5 and L5-S1. Both injuries manifested themselves as well clinically, causing pain and limitations in her daily life. The orthopedic surgeon recommended that she undergo an arthroscopic surgery on her left knee to repair the meniscal tear after conservative treatment failed. The surgery was performed at the Hospital for Joint Disease. Her orthopedist also referred the plaintiff to a neurosurgeon as well as physiatrist. The physiatrist performed EMG tests to the lower extremities of the plaintiff. They revealed a left sided radiculopathy. Her neurosurgeon, after more than a year of physical therapy, recommended a posterior lumbar interbody fusion. Plaintiff sought several second opinions and finally decided to follow the recommendations of her neurosurgeon. She underwent the lumbar surgery at St. Joseph's hospital in Yonkers, New York. The plaintiff underwent extensive physical therapy post-operatively.
She has been unable to work on a consistent basis since the date of the accident.

VERDICT/SETTLEMENT AMOUNT
$2,005,000

NOTE
The case was settled by Stephen J. Murphy, Esq. with Liberty/General Star during a mediation at JAMS under the guidance of mediator Michael McAllister. The case against American Transit was resolved pre-trial and out of court.