$975,000 Settlement on Behalf of Pedestrian Hit by Bus
Our client, a 56-year-old woman, was crossing Ocean Avenue at Avenue X in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, New York when she was struck by a minibus and killed. Ocean Avenue is seven lanes wide at that location and the defense claimed that our client began crossing when the pedestrian signal was a solid "Don't Walk".
There was no question that the minibus was stopped at a red light in the far right northbound lane of Ocean Avenue, that it had a green light when it crossed over Avenue X, and that at the time it struck our client in the far right lane the pedestrian signal was a solid "Don't Walk". The defense claimed that in fact, the pedestrian signal was a solid "Don't Walk" when our client began crossing Ocean Parkway. Based on a strict time-distance analysis that would have been true. However, the defense had no evidence as to whether our client walked non-stop or whether she had to pause while crossing the street to allow cars to make a left-hand turn. Sullivan Brill hired an accident reconstruction expert to recreate the accident, taking photographs and video during the process in order to demonstrate the flaw in the defense argument. We then focused the case on the bus driver's failure to see our client while she crossed six lanes of traffic. One of the key pieces of evidence was the testimony of the driver of the car next to the minibus. This witness was identified through the 911 sprint reports. At trial, she testified that she began to move forward when the light turned green, saw our client crossing and stopped to allow her to finish. The bus driver continued straight and hit the women as she entered the lane of travel the bus was in. She testified that the women did not look up before being hit and that after the impact, she was lying still, not making any sounds and bleeding from her mouth and ears. The client spent seven days unconscious in Lutheran Medical Center before her adult son agreed to discontinue life support and she passed away.
The settlement was reached after all of the liability evidence was submitted to the jury, just before closing arguments. Prior to that time, the insurance company refused to offer more than $200,000. Although $975,000 does not represent the loss of a precious life, New York's antiquated wrongful death statute limits recovery to the decedent's conscious pain and suffering prior to death and the decedent's heir's loss of financial support. To strengthen the evidence of conscious pain and suffering, Sullivan Brill hired a forensic pathologist to explain to the jury that although she was unconscious in laymen's terms, she had some level of awareness in the hospital. We further argued that there was a brief period of time after she was hit and before she became unconscious during which she suffered terribly, having sustained a fractured skull and nine fractured ribs in the impact with the bus. These injuries were vividly demonstrated with medical illustrations prepared based upon the x-rays and MRI's of the client's head and chest.