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$2,500,000 Settlement for Cyclist Doored by a Vehicle in Queens, New York

A cyclist was traveling to work in Queens when the driver of a vehicle he was passing opened the door and struck him, causing him to fall to the ground. As a result of the accident, he suffered spinal, shoulder, and knee injuries which required surgery. Represented by Block O’Toole & Murphy, he received a $2.5 million settlement.

Court and County
Supreme, Queens

Age and Occupation of Plaintiff
Age 52; Employed as a Wood Worker at the time of accident.

Accident Description
The accident occurred on southbound Skillman Street, Queens, New York. At the time of the accident, defendant driver, while in the course of his employment for defendant New York City School Construction Authority, was sitting in the driver’s seat in a parked vehicle on the right side of the roadway. The roadway at the accident location was marked as permissible for both vehicle and bicycle traffic.

Plaintiff was riding his bicycle to work, traveling southbound on Skillman Street. As he was passing the defendant’s vehicle, defendant driver opened the door and struck him, causing him to fall to the roadway. Defendant driver testified at his deposition that he never made contact with Plaintiff though he did see him fall shortly after he rode by defendant driver’s vehicle. The defendants argued that Plaintifff was an experienced bicycle rider and that he saw defendant driver’s parked vehicle prior to the accident and should have been more aware of his surroundings and the possibility that a person would be alighting from the parked vehicle.

Plaintiff was taken by ambulance to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Queens where he was treated in the Emergency Room and released the same day. As a result of the accident, he injured his cervical spine, left knee, right shoulder, lumbar spine, right hand and left elbow. He treated with specialists, obtained physical therapy and underwent diagnostic testing related to his injuries.

Plaintiff subsequently underwent a one-level cervical spine fusion surgery at the C4-C5 level. He also underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his left knee and arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. He suffered soft tissue injuries to his lumbar spine, right hand and left elbow that did not require surgery.

Plaintiff alleged that the he was permanently disabled from employment and required healthcare for his injuries for the remainder of his life. Plaintiff alleged economic damages for past and future lost earnings and the cost of future healthcare related to the injuries sustained in the accident.

Defendants’ expert spine surgeon would have testified at trial that the cervical MRI findings were all of a degenerative nature and not caused by the accident and that the need for cervical spine surgery was not accident-related. He would have also testified that the upper and lower EMG tests were negative and that there was no radiographic explanation for the Plaintiff’s radicular symptoms.

Defendants’ expert neurologist would have testified at trial that there was no objective neurological deficit and no neurological deficit caused by the accident; that the EMGs revealed no cervical or lumbar radiculopathy; that the cervical MRI findings are degenerative in nature, and that the cervical spine surgery bears no relationship to the accident.

Defendants’ expert orthopedic surgeon would have testified at trial that his examination of the Plaintiff’s right shoulder revealed no objective findings of residuals causally related to the accident and that he had a mild limitation of his shoulder range of motion. He would have also testified that his examination of the left knee was completely normal. He would have further testified that the Plaintiff is fully capable of performing his activities of daily living; that the Plaintiff is capable of performing full time work and that no further surgery is required now or anticipated to be required in the future.

Settlement Amount
The case settled before trial at mediation for $2,500,000.

This case was handled by Partners Daniel P. O’Toole and Frederick C. Aranki.

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