$4,000,000 Settlement (with $19,394,595 as the Anticipated Payout) for 12-year-old Student Hit by Vehicle While Crossing the Street
COURT AND COUNTY
Supreme Court, Kings County
AGE AND OCCUPATION OF PLAINTIFF
At the time of the accident, Plaintiff, a girl, was a 12-year-old student.
DESCRIPTION OF CASE
At 8:35 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2000, Plaintiff was walking northbound on Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn when she was struck in the crosswalk by a vehicle traveling westbound on Bushwick Avenue. She sustained injuries to her wrist, back and knees.
Plaintiff’s mother and natural guardian sued the driver for negligence in the operation of his vehicle and the owner, H.E.L.P. U.S.A., Inc., H.E.L.P.-Bronx, and/or H.E.L.P.-Bronx L.P., under a theory of vicarious liability. The driver was employed by H.E.L.P.-Bronx at the time and working at the time of the accident.
Plaintiff contended that she had the pedestrian walk sign in her favor and that Defendant did not obey the red traffic signal governing his path of travel. Plaintiff’s counsel would have called at trial Plaintiff’s former teacher as a non-party witness. The former teacher contended that she was driving northbound on Jefferson Ave, in the same direction as Plaintiff was walking, and saw Plaintiff leave the southwest corner of Jefferson and Bushwick Avenues with the pedestrian signal in her favor.
The driver claimed that he stopped at the intersection for the red signal and then proceeded at a slow rate of speed when it changed to green. He alleged that there was a vehicle immediately to his left, also traveling westbound, that obstructed his view to the left.
At his deposition Defendant driver claimed that he was not even sure if he hit Plaintiff and that she stopped in front of his vehicle and then walked to the sidewalk. He alleged that she then walked back in front of his vehicle, sat down, and started crying.
Plaintiff was transported in an ambulance to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, in Brooklyn, where she was treated and released. She sustained a Salter I fracture of her right (dominant) wrist that required casting, a disc herniation at L5-S1, and bilateral knee injuries. Additionally, she suffered from radiculopathy and back pain.
Within three months of the accident, Plaintiff underwent right knee surgery, which revealed a redundant patellar tendon. In 2004 she again underwent right and left knee surgery with small meniscal tears and bilateral synovial plica shelf being observed inter-operatively.
In January 2004, Plaintiff underwent lumbar interbody fusion with the insertion of four screws and an interbody cage at L5-S1. She contended that the operation resolved her radiculopathy and significantly decreased her back pain.
Plaintiff began participating in physical therapy soon after the accident. She claimed that she would require 20 to 30 physical therapy treatments per year for the rest of her life (estimated to be 60 years) to help her maintain her present level of function.
Plaintiff’s medical experts would have testified in the future Plaintiff will likely experience pain in her lower back and stresses at the vertebral level above where the fusion was performed and may require further surgery.
The defendants would have argued at trial that a redundant patellar tendon and bilateral presence of a synovial plica shelf are normal variants that were not traumatically induced. The defendants also contested the seriousness and causal relation of the meniscal tears. The defendants’ expert orthopedic surgeon and expert radiologist would have contested the causation of the disc herniation and the need for surgery.
Plaintiff incurred $125,000 in past medical specials, $50,000 of which no-fault covered. She sought to recover damages for future medical expenses and past and future pain and suffering.
Plaintiff’s mother presented a claim for loss of services.
The parties agreed to a $4,000,000 settlement, with a guaranteed payout of $10,581,576 and an anticipated payout of $19,394,595.
Upfront, Plaintiff will receive $3.95 million for past and future pain and suffering and Plaintiff’s mother will receive $50,000.
This matter was handled by Daniel P. O’Toole, Esq.