$1,250,000 Settlement Awarded to Driver Injured When Her Car Hit a Pothole in Brooklyn, New York
DATE OF SETTLEMENT
June 8, 2007
COURT AND COUNTY
AGE AND OCCUPATION OF PLAINTIFF
Plaintiff was 56 years old on the date of the accident. Plaintiff was not working when the accident occurred.
FACTS AND ALLEGATIONS
The subject accident occurred on April 27, 2002, around 3:30pm, near the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Nichols Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. Plaintiff was driving her car westbound on Atlantic Avenue only at about 20-25 miles per hour when her car hit the pothole, measuring approximately 3 feet in length and over 4 feet in depth. There were no signs, cones, or warnings around the hole to indicate there was a danger in the road. Furthermore, the Plaintiff was not following any cars, so she did not see anyone swerve to avoid the hole nor did she see any other car tires sink into the hole prior to her accident.
Plaintiff claimed that the City of New York failed to properly fix the pothole, thereby causing the accident. Plaintiff’s expert supported the claim by testifying that repairs performed by the City of New York were negligent because they failed to properly replace concrete, subbase and earth underneath the asphalt, which had been washed away as a result of a broken sewer pipe. This, in turn, left the asphalt unsupported, leading to its collapse and creating the large hole.
Defendant, on the other hand, claimed that the pothole had been properly repaired and was not an immediate danger. The City of New York also claimed that the Plaintiff was responsible for the accident because the pothole was an open and obvious condition that the Plaintiff should have seen. Furthermore, Defendants showed they had never received any written notice of a condition or issue with the pothole prior to Plaintiff’s accident.
Plaintiff suffered a worsening of her pre-existing neck and back injuries. She had sustained injuries to her neck in four prior accidents and had undergone neck surgery prior to this accident. Plaintiff had previously sustained injuries in an amusement park accident, a car accident, and a work related slip and fall. She underwent brain and neck surgery about four years prior to the subject accident. After this accident, Plaintiff went through extensive physical therapy, acupuncture and trigger point injections to her neck and back. Plaintiff eventually underwent a cervical laminectomy and facetectomy because of her worsening spine condition.
Plaintiff argued that the accident caused her worsening symptoms that eventually led to surgery. Plaintiff further argued that the City of New York had a duty to properly maintain and repair the roadway, and ensure that there was no open or obvious danger. The defense argued that Plaintiff’s neck and back injuries as well as subsequent treatment were results of her pre-existing conditions and not a result of the accident.
Plaintiff made claims for past and future medical expenses, as well as past and future pain and suffering.
The parties negotiated a $1,250,000 settlement during the trial after five days of testimony.
This case was handled by S. Joseph Donahue.