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New Jersey Family Recovers $1.9M Prior to Trial in Motor Vehicle Case

May 11, 2017 by personalinjuryatty.com

A 51-year-old man in a Toyota was stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike due to an earlier accident, when a waste disposal truck driver struck the man’s car in the rear with great force. As a consequence of the accident, the man suffered a massive head trauma, and probably experienced a few seconds of conscious pain and suffering before he died.

The family of the Toyota driver argued that the truck driver failed to sufficiently slow down as he approached traffic that was stopped on the NJ Turnpike because of a prior accident.

Although it has been reported by New Jersey.com that deaths on the New Jersey Turnpike are declining, in 2013, 9 people still lost their lives there. “There were nine deadly accidents on the Turnpike for the entire year — down from 24 the year before — and no accidents that resulted in multiple deaths… Of the nine deaths, one victim was on a motorcycle and three victims were on foot, he said.”

According to the Automobile Association of America (AAA) New Jersey, the Move Over Law mandates that when approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck, highway maintenance or emergency service vehicle and traveling in the same direction vehicles must move over to a non-adjacent lane if possible, or slow down.

Signs had been posted on the turnpike that warned motorists to slow down. Had the case proceeded to trial, the family would have presented witnesses to state that the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed before slowing down, and that the witnesses believed that an accident was unavoidable. The witnesses would have noted that the man appeared to be breathing and making noises for a short time after the accident. An expert internist would have stated that it was likely that the man experienced conscious pain and suffering as a result of the accident.

The truck driver would have asserted that the family’s claims should be rejected and would have claimed that man did not regain consciousness before succumbing. The man was separated and left two minor children. The family’s economist would have discussed economic losses to the children that approximated $330,000.

The family also said that they were a very close-knit group and that the loss of guidance and advice under Green vs. Bitner was very substantial. According to the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center, Green vs. Bitner damages entitles the plaintiff to recover damages under N.J.S.A. 2a:31-1, Et Seq. for pecuniary [monetary] loss sustained for the loss of companionship, advice and guidance.

The case settled prior to trial for $1,875,000.


Five Pennsylvania Families to Share in a $5.8M Recovery from a School Bus & Truck Accident

March 28, 2017 by personalinjuryatty.com

In July of 2006, a school bus full of Pennsylvania children was driving north on Route 95 in Maryland, on the way back from a camp field trip to the Baltimore Aquarium. After a brief contact between the right front of the bus and the back left of a tractor-trailer, the truck stopped. The bus continued past the truck, and flipped over. The specifics of the accident were disputed between the school bus company and the owner on a tractor-trailer.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, school buses are a very safe form of transportation. In fact, they are the safest form of transportation for children to school. Students who ride school buses are 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take a school bus to school than if they ride with a teen driver, and 20 times more likely than if they rode with an adult driver.

Although this accident resulted in more than 50 claims, many of them were previously settled, and 15 were dismissed. The remaining claims were from the families of five minor passengers who were on the bus and claimed injuries. The minors ranged from 9-12 years of age. They sued the company which operated the bus, as well as the trucking company which owned the tractor-trailer truck involved in the collision. Both of these companies said that the other driver failed to maintain his lane of travel, entered the other’s lane and caused the collision.

Evidence showed that the bus was traveling in the left lane and the truck was traveling in the center lane. The families’ accident reconstruction expert said that the truck passed the bus on the right and then began to enter the left lane occupied by the bus. After a brief contact between the right front of the bus and the back left of the tractor; the truck stopped and the bus continued past the truck, left the road surface, and flipped over.

The families claimed that the driver of the school bus was under the legal age to conduct a bus from one state to another. Additionally, they claimed that he was using his cell phone when the collision occurred.

Minor A had road rash burns to his back, shoulders and right arm from being dragged by the bus. He was also diagnosed right arm nerve damage, a closed head injury with brain damage characterized by a behavioral disorder. He will be precluded from many fields of employment in the future as a result of his accident-related injuries and that he sustained a diminished future earning capacity. The families’ economist estimated Minor A’s total economic damages to be $2.3 to $2.8 million.

Minor B, suffered a laceration to his left arm complicated by infection. He also alleged a left arm injury with nerve damage, a closed head injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. His father asserted a claim for past and future loss of wages resulting from the time off from work that will be required for him to care for his son.

Minor C was diagnosed with a left arm fracture as a result of the collision.

Minor D claimed to suffer an ankle injury and closed head injury with chronic migraine headaches.

Minor E contended that she suffered a closed head injury with post-traumatic stress disorder and back and neck injuries with ongoing chronic back and neck pain.

The case settled for a combined total of $5,887,500 prior to trial. The settlement was apportioned to the plaintiffs as follows: $3,700,000 to Minor A, $1,500,000 to Minor B, $417,500 to Minor C.; $160,000 to Minor D and $110,000 to Minor E.

The trucking company ultimately assumed the bulk of responsibility and contributed $5.5M of the settlement proceeds. The school bus company paid $387,500.


Philadelphia Family Recovers $26.1M Pre-Trial in a Motor Vehicle Negligence Action

February 9, 2017 by personalinjuryatty.com

On July 6, 2010, a woman was driving a Toyota Matrix eastbound on Interstate Route 80 with her father in the passenger seat, her husband in the back seat, with her two dogs. Shortly after 5:00 p.m. she was in stopped traffic near a construction zone. She stated that a tractor-trailer attempted to change lanes at the last minute, but struck her vehicle from behind at a speed of at least 71 mph. She also held that evidence from the truck’s on-board computer established that the truck driver had increased the speed, using cruise control to 72.5 mph just 34 seconds before the impact.

According to the National Traffic Safety Council, 2.5 million rear-end collisions are reported each year. The National Highway Safety Commission found that 28% of highway accidents are related to rear-end collisions. “Vehicle collision avoidance technologies can prevent these types of accidents. In fact, NHTSA found that electronic stability control systems could reduce loss-of-control accidents by 40 percent for cars and 70 percent for sport utility vehicles. If installed on the U.S. fleet of commercial tractor trailer combination units, these systems could prevent an estimated 4,659 crashes each year. “

The woman sought punitive, as well as compensatory damages. The truck driver said in court documents that his vision of stopped traffic was obscured by sun glare. He was eastbound; the sun sets in the west. If this case had proceeded to trial, admission of liability would have been expected.

The woman’s father was pronounced dead at the scene from injuries sustained. The woman’s husband suffered multiple head injuries and was hospitalized in a coma for more than a month. He was diagnosed with a permanent traumatic brain injury which will make him totally disabled from employment and necessitate attendant care for the remainder of his life. Both dogs died at the scene.

The woman’s injuries included multiple rib fractures, liver laceration, vertebral fractures, lacerations and contusions. She was 27 years old, and was a family counselor with a mental health service. She is now restricted to part-time employment because of her care responsibilities for her husband.

The compensatory aspects of this case were settled prior to trial for a combined total of $26,100,000.

The remaining issue is the punitive damages, which the court indicated would be permitted to go to the jury trial. The woman maintained that the truck driver’s increase of his cruise control speed to 72.5 mph 34-seconds before the collision, combined with his failure to slow down when entering the construction zone, constituted willful and wanton conduct warranting punitive damages. The tucking company stressed that the defendant had 36 years’ experience as a truck driver and a perfect driving record.


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