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$1.3 Million for Passenger in Two-Car Collision Where Both Drivers Were at Fault

Court and County

Supreme Court, Kings County

Age and Occupation of Plaintiff

Our client was a 44-year-old handyman at the time of the accident.

Description of Case

This case stemmed from a two-vehicle collision that occurred at an intersection in Brooklyn.  Our client was a backseat passenger in a Chevy sedan traveling on Stanley Avenue, which intended to turn left at the intersection of Fountain Avenue. The other vehicle, a Ford Explorer owned by a private ambulette company, was proceeding in the opposite direction along Stanley Avenue, toward the vehicle in which our client was a passenger. The two vehicles collided within the intersection, with the front driver’s side of the Ford impacting the front passenger’s side of the Chevy.

Our lawsuit claimed that both vehicle drivers played a role in causing the accident. The defendant drivers both claimed no fault for the accident. The driver of the Chevy sedan testified that she was properly positioned at a complete stop in the intersection, waiting to turn left when struck by the oncoming Ford vehicle. The driver of the Ford testified that he was simply driving straight through the intersection with the right of way when the left-turning Chevy came out of nowhere and struck him. We utilized several arguments, based in part upon measurements obtained by Google Earth images, to argue that both vehicles contributed to the happening of the collision. The Ford driver, we argued, failed to pay proper attention to the roadway ahead of him and drifted partially into the oncoming lane of travel. The Chevy driver, we claimed, had partially begun its turn when it was unsafe to have done so.

Injuries and Damages

The collision was quite a forceful one, in which both vehicles’ airbags deployed and both vehicles were totaled. Our client was removed from the back seat of the car by paramedics and taken by ambulance to the emergency room on a stretcher, where he complained of neck pain. He began treating steadily shortly thereafter with a pain management doctor and orthopedic surgeon, making complaints of neck pain with numbness and tingling down his left arm into his hand, as well as severe headaches.

Our client underwent a cervical spine MRI study that revealed a disc protrusion at C5/6 and herniation at C6/7, both impinging the spinal cord. His numbness began to extend down to his fingers, causing difficulty performing tasks as simple as turning door knobs. Nerve/EMG testing revealed radiculopathy at C5.

After a course of physical therapy failed to help, our client was recommended for a neck surgery, which he underwent. That surgery consisted of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at the C5/6 and C6/7 levels, with decompression of the spinal cord and nerve roots.

Our client also claimed low back injuries, and MRI study showed a herniated disc at L2/3 impinging the L2 nerve root. Nerve/EMG testing demonstrated L4 radiculopathy. He underwent physical therapy for his low back pain, which was somewhat successful in providing relief. The neck surgery helped our client significantly, relieving most of his numbness. He did, however, continue to suffer with periodic neck and back pain.

We had our client evaluated by an expert physician who predicted various future medical treatments would be needed, and retained an economist to calculate the cost of that future treatment. Our client was able to resume handyman jobs after some time, albeit in a somewhat limited fashion. We claimed damages for decreased earnings, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Settlement

Despite several challenges, including the ambulette company declaring bankruptcy during the pendency of the case, we were able to reach a negotiated pre-trial settlement of $1.3 million.  The insurance companies of both vehicles contributed to the settlement.

Handling Attorneys

This matter was handled by firm Partners Stephen J. Murphy and David L. Scher.

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