$20,181,484 Verdict For Man Injured in Collision Caused by Icy Road Condition

Our client was driving home on a snowy night when he came to a curve in the road. As he slowed to make this turn, he noticed another car coming into his lane and right towards him. Our client tried to move out of the way but was unable to because the road was covered with black ice. As a result of the crash, he suffered severe elbow injuries which left him unable to use his arm. Represented by Block O'Toole & Murphy, he brought a lawsuit against the State of New York and they were found to be responsible for the icy condition of the roadway, which they had prior knowledge of.

Court and County
Court of Claims, New York

Plaintiff Description
Our client was 33 years old and employed as a computer engineer at the time of the accident.

Description of Case
Our client was driving home on a snowy night when he came to a portion of the road which was covered in snow, causing him to slow down. After passing through this area, the road curved to the left. As our client made this turn, he noticed the headlights of another car approaching him from the opposite direction, approximately 100 yards away.

Our client soon realized that this car was drifting over into his lane. He tried to evade the other car by moving over right but realized his car's traction on the road was compromised, and that the other car was not able to change its direction either.

An ensuing lawsuit against the State of New York revealed that state officials were aware of this icing condition and similar prior accidents on this road. The cause of the icy condition was found to be insufficient drainage. When snow would accumulate and then melt during the day, the road would become wet and freeze up at night when the temperature dropped.

A Department of Transportation employee later claimed that the location of the accident was well-known as an area that required "babysitting," but that it was not being watched that night because it was the weekend. Additionally, state officials failed to use any signs or otherwise warn drivers of the stretch of black ice that frequently formed on this roadway. The state was found solely responsible for the accident, with no fault attributed to the client.

Injuries
As a result of the car accident, our client sustained open fractures to his ulna bone and his humerus. He also lost two and a half inches of his humerus and half of his elbow, which left him with virtually no function in his arm. The injuries were particularly debilitating because he was left-handed.

To treat his extensive injuries, he had 28 surgical procedures performed, including multiple skin grafts. Significantly, he experienced four recurrences of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infection resulting from the grafting of a cadaver bone (allograft) into his elbow.

Verdict Amount
The case was brought to trial, and the jury awarded our client $20,181,484 for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost future earnings.

Handling Attorneys
This matter was handled by Partner Daniel P. O'Toole.