$2,925,000 Recovery for Man with Back Injuries After His Vehicle Was Hit by a School Bus

Court and County

Supreme, Bronx

Plaintiff Description

39-year-old factory worker at the time of the accident; Columbian immigrant; Spanish-speaking

Description of Case

Our client was driving at about 5 p.m. with two co-workers in Queens. He soon approached an intersection with the intention to drive straight through it. He did not slow down as he did not have a stop sign. At the time, he was taking a different route home than he would normally take, and estimated he was going about 20mph.

Suddenly, as he passed through the intersection, he was hit on the passenger side by a school bus which had run a stop sign. Our client lost consciousness in the accident and woke up in an ambulance on the way to Elmhurst hospital. He began to suffer immediate pain in his neck and back.

The defendant claimed that their view of the stop sign was obstructed by a tree, but also admitted that the route they were driving that day was one that they took two times a day, five days a week. It was also found that there was a warning sign near the intersection to warn of the upcoming stop sign.

It was ultimately determined that a driver a) has no duty to watch for and avoid a driver who might fail to stop or proceed with due caution and b) an operator who has the right of way is entitled to anticipate that other vehicles will obey the traffic laws that require them to yield. The Appellate Division granted summary judgement to the Plaintiff on the issue of liability.

Injuries

Our client suffered severe back injuries as a result of the accident, including a bulging disc to his lumbar spine at L5/S1 with left-sided neural foraminal stenosis. This injury required a posterior lumbar laminectomy and discectomy, as well as a posterior lateral lumbar fusion. This spinal fusion surgery did not bring him relief, however, and he eventually required a revision surgery.

Sadly, this surgery left him infertile, which devastated him emotionally. For a time, he reported experiencing anxiety, depression, constant nightmares and eventually suicidal ideation. These symptoms led to diagnoses of PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder and Post-Concussion Syndrome.

He also suffered numerous injuries to his cervical spine, which thankfully did not require surgery:

  • C2/3: Focal disc herniation
  • C3/4: Broad-based posterior bulge impinging upon the anterior thecal sac
  • C4/5: Posterior bulging impinging upon the anterior thecal sac
  • C5/6: Central disc herniation with posterior end plate hypertrophy impinging upon the anterior thecal sac and bilateral foraminal stenosis
  • C6/7: Central disc herniation

Our client made a claim for future lost wages since he was not able to return to his job as a union shipping packer after his spinal fusion surgery. His prospects for future employment were determined to be severely diminished as well, as he was not able to walk for more than twenty or so minutes without experiencing extreme pain. He began to spend much of his time lying down and needed to use a spinal stimulator roughly four hours a day.

Settlement

This case settled before trial for $2,925,000.

Handling Attorneys

This matter was handled by Daniel P. O'Toole and Frederick C. Aranki.