$1,260,000 Settlement in Queens Case for Passenger Injured in Two Separate Car Accidents
DATE OF SETTLEMENT
June 2, 2006
COURT AND COUNTY
Supreme Court, Queens County
AGE AND OCCUPATION OF PLAINTIFF
Plaintiff was 37 years old at the time of the accident. She was working as a manager of a cleaning company at the time.
DESCRIPTION OF CASE
Plaintiff was involved in 2 separate automobile accidents 10 months apart from each other. The lawsuits were brought together due to uncertainty as to which accident caused the injuries involved in the accident. This lawsuit was brought under a theory of concurrent causation, i.e. that both accidents combined to cause the plaintiff’s injuries.
In the first accident in late May 2001, Plaintiff was a passenger in her cousin’s car as they were traveling westbound on the Long Island Expressway. At or about its intersection with Van Horn Street in Queens, they were “cut off'” by a westbound van operated by Defendant driver. The van merged from the center lane to the left lane, forcing the car in which Plaintiff was in to swerve into the cement barrier in the center of the expressway. The car bounced from off of the barrier, into the westbound lane, colliding with the van again. Emergency medical services (EMS) treated Plaintiff at the scene and transported her to a hospital, however, she left before she could be treated.
In the second incident, Plaintiff was a passenger in the back seat of a car being driven by her husband on March 30, 2002. She was traveling with her husband on the Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway (BQE) as a passenger in the front-seat of the car he was driving. Two other passengers were seated in the vehicle’s rear. While crossing through the toll plaza of the BQE’s Kosciuszko Bridge, Plaintiff’s husband slowed to avoid hitting a vehicle stopped ahead. As Plaintiff’s car stopped, it was rear-ended by one co-defendant, whose car was sent forward by the impact of a trailing truck, driven by another co-defendant.
Plaintiff herniated her L4-5 and L5-S1 discs and experienced radiculopathy of the cervical and lumbar regions. She had to have de-compressive surgery to address her L4-5 disc. The procedure included both a laminectomy and facetectomy. An administrative law judge, referencing the professional opinion of a spinal surgeon, declared Plaintiff disabled, retroactive to the date of the operation.
Plaintiff did about one year of biweekly physical therapy.
Plaintiff contended that she cannot resume to work and that her injuries also restrict her domestic capacity to clean the house and care for her young son. Plaintiff sought to recover for future medical treatment and expenses, lost wages for both the past and future and finally, damages for the pain and suffering she dealt with in the past and will have to deal with in the future.
Defendant’s counsel argued that the March 2002 accident did not meet the threshold for a “serious injury,” as defined by Insurance Law § 5102(d). Generally, if this threshold is not met, Plaintiff cannot bring forth a cause of action against the potential tortfeasor. The defense’s strongest argument noted the lack of any diagnostic test or medical opinion that reflected the injuries of which Plaintiff sustained.
Despite the arguments from the defense, Plaintiff’s case was strong enough that the co-Defendants were compelled to offer substantial compensation for the damages she sustained as a result of the accidents.
The parties agreed to a settlement prior to trial, awarding a total of $1,260,000 to Plaintiff for the injuries and damages sustained from the collisions.
This matter was handled by Stephen J. Murphy, Esq.