Student Suffers Considerable Brain Injury From Car Accident In Crosswalk Near High School

 By: J. Hernandez
Parents normally think that their children will not be in danger just by going to school. It is not in their world view that their son or daughter will be injured in a car accident while crossing the street just in front of their school. Indeed, don't towns and counties in which the school is situated make sure that there are signs reducing how fast cars can go in areas around schools and controlling intersections close to the school with stop signs and traffic lights? Further, don't drivers normally take extra precautions in school zones? Do not be so sure.

In one documented matter, a fifteen year old boy was crossing the street while on his way to his high school when he was hit by a car. The boy was in a crosswalk at the time of the accident. The impact left him with a brain injury and he ended up in a coma for several weeks followed by rehabiliation therapy. He was left with problems with his memory, his speech and his ability to make decisions. Furthermore, he suffered physical disabilities including balance and walking. Once he went back to school, he had to be placed in special education as he was no longer able to keep up with regular classes. The expense spent on his treatment to that point was almost three quarters of a million dollars.

Due to the nature and extent of his impairments he requires life-care. The life-care plan includes anticipated future medical expenses up to $3.5 million. And given his disabilities he endured a loss of earning capacity of approximately $2.2 million. A loss of earning capacity is often measured as the difference in the income he was anticipated to have had in the event he had not been in the accident and the more limited income he will probably be able to earn due to his accident related disabilities.

The law firm that represented the young man brought suit on behalf of the student's parents, both individually and on their son's behalf, naming both the driver and the county as defendants. The case against the county alleged the negligent maintenance of a school zone mid-block intersection that was not properly controlled and that was zoned with a 45 m.p.h. speed limit. The driver did not deny that she was at fault yet claimed that the county and, yes, the victim were also responsible. The city, in turn, denied any liability for the accident and that it was the driver and the victim who were to blame.

To work up the case the law firm hired an accident reconstruction expert, a physician concentrating in pediatric neurology and traumatic brain injury, a life-care planning specialist, and an economist. The law firm published that they ended up going to trial on the case. The jury reportedly determined that the driver was seventy nine percent responsible the county was 20% responsible, and the student was 1% responsible for the accident. As documented in to the report by the law firm, they obtained a jury award of $9.14 million for the student and his parents.

The jury was clearly convinced that there were things both the driver and the county ought to have done which would have avoided this accident. Perhaps every county should consider this case as an example of a foreseeable and preventable catastrophe and take measures to make the region around their school safe for children. And possibly in doing the right thing they may prevent a future terrible accident that extensive alters the future of one of its students. And they can also lower their risk of a big adverse jury award.
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