$1,750,000 Settlement for Bus Passenger Involved in Rear-End Accident

Court and County
Supreme, Queens

Plaintiff Description
Our client was twenty-two and worked at Home Depot at the time of the accident.

Description of Case
Our client was riding a bus when the Defendant bus operator rear-ended two vehicles which were stopped at a red light at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Wetherhole Street in Elmhurst, Queens. On the police report, the Defendant bus driver said that the vehicles stopped at a yellow light and thus he was not able to stop his bus in time. A report made by the Defendant's supervisor indicated that the Defendant was responsible for the accident because he should have been driving slower, should have left more space between his bus and the vehicles he hit, and should have anticipated that the traffic light would change.

Video of the accident became available from cameras which were installed in the bus itself. This footage confirmed that the Defendant was going 29 mph, rather than 10-15 mph as he had originally indicated. The footage also revealed that although the first vehicle which was struck had changed lanes before the accident occurred, it properly used a turn signal and changed lanes at a safe distance from the bus. Our firm then moved for summary judgement on the issue of liability, and the motion was granted.

Injuries
In the aftermath of the accident, our client did not complain of any injuries and refused medical attention. He returned home but had his girlfriend take him to the emergency room later that night when he began to feel pain in his neck and back. An MRI was taken and revealed bulging cervical discs at C3-7 and bulging lumbar discs at L4/5 and L5/S1.

After a conservative treatment of physical therapy and spinal injections failed to relieve our client's pain, he was forced to undergo cervical fusion surgery at C5/6 and C6/7. He also underwent lumbar fusion surgery at L4/5 at a later date.

Our client's recovery from these surgeries was excellent, and he was able to return to full-time employment. Medical experts who treated our client, however, noted that he would require future healthcare to manage his spinal health, and that his work life would likely be shortened. Our client thus alleged damages for future medical care as well as the loss of future wages due to his reduced earning potential.

The Defendant's medical experts found that our client's injuries were the result of a degenerative condition and found insufficient medical evidence to establish a causal relationship between the accident and his injuries. They also claimed that the injuries our client suffered were not permanent and would not require future medical treatment, physical therapy or regular diagnostic testing from a spine surgeon or musculoskeletal specialist. The Defendant's Life Care Planner also claimed that our client would make a full recovery and as a result would not experience a reduction in his work life and thus potential future earnings. The Defendant's expert biomechanical engineer further claimed that the force generated by the accident was insufficient to cause our client's injuries, and that the force he was subjected to was no greater than the force placed on the body in day to day activities.

Settlement Amount
This case settled for $1,750,000 before going to trial.

Handling Attorneys
This matter was handled by Partner Daniel P. O'Toole and Senior Counsel Frederick C. Aranki.

If you or someone you love have been injured in a bus accident, contact the experienced bus accident lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy to receive a free legal consultation. Simply call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form to speak with an attorney today.