$1,750,000 Settlement for Driver Rear-Ended at Low Speed by a School Bus

Our client was stopped at a red light in New York when he was struck from behind by a school bus going less than 10 mph at the time of the collision. Our client did not think he was badly hurt until he returned home, eventually checking himself into the emergency room at Montefiore Hospital. Although Defendant experts claimed that the force of the accident was insufficient to cause our client's injuries, Block O'Toole & Murphy successfully reached a $1.75 million settlement on the client's behalf during mediation.

Court and County
Supreme, Bronx

Plaintiff Description
Our client was 44 years old and employed as a butcher at the time of the accident.

Description of Case
Our client was stopped at a red light in the Bronx neighborhood of Norwood at the intersection of Jerome Avenue and Minerva Place when he was struck from behind by a school bus. Our client was wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred but hit his head against the driver's side window due to the force of the accident.

The Defendant gave multiple excuses for why the accident occurred. In the aftermath of the crash, the Defendant told our client that he had gotten grease on the bottom of his shoe before the accident, which caused his foot to slip off the brake. He also later claimed that the light turned from red to green and that he hit our client's vehicle because he did not also accelerate. The Defendant also claimed he thought our client would make a left, and mis-maneuvered his vehicle as he tried to go around him.

The police report, however, stated that the cause of the accident was the Defendant school bus following our client too closely. Our firm later moved for summary judgement on the issue of liability, and the motion was granted.

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Injuries
In the aftermath of the accident, it was not obvious that our client had been seriously injured. Our client then returned home but checked himself into the emergency room at Montefiore Hospital the day after the accident with complaints of pain in his neck and low back. Medical tests were performed and revealed the following injuries:

  • Lumbar Spine: bulging discs at L2/3, L4/5 and L5-S1
  • Cervical Spine: herniated disc at C4/5 and bulging discs at C5/6 and C6/7
  • Left Shoulder tendinitis of the supraspinatus tendon

To treat these injuries, our client received lumbar laminectomy and fusion surgery at the L4/5 level. The post-op diagnosis was lumbar radiculopathy, a herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) and instability.

The medical expert who examined our client determined that he would require significant future medical care, diagnostic testing and medications to continue treating injuries related to his lumbar injuries. An expert economist who examined these medical reports confirmed a significant amount of future medical bills for our client, and our client thus made a claim for damages related to future medical care.

Had the case gone to trial, the Defendant's expert neurosurgeon would have testified that our client suffered a hyperflexion-hyperextension injury to his cervical and lumbar spine, a less severe injury which typically resolves itself within a few years. This expert also claimed that based on his review of the MRI results, surgical intervention on our client's lumbar spine was not necessary.

The Defendant's biomechanical expert claimed that the structural damage to our client's vehicle was consistent with a collision occurring at less than 10 m.p.h. He further claimed that the forces present in the crash were within normal human tolerance and not outside the range of daily activities. Finally, Defendant experts claimed that the forces caused by the accident were insufficient to have caused our client's injuries.

Settlement Amount
This case settled prior to trial at mediation for $1,750,000.

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