Young Man Endures Serious Brain Injury Due To Automobile Accident In Crosswalk Close To High School

 By: J. Hernandez
Parents usually believe that their children will not be in danger just by going to school. It is not in their world view that their child will be hurt in a motor vehicle accident while crossing the street right in front of their school. Indeed, don't towns and counties where the school is located ensure that there are signals lowering the speed limit in areas around schools and controlling intersections around the school with stop signs and traffic lights? Further, don't drivers typically take more precautions in school zones? Do not be so certain.

In one published lawsuit, 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 wound up in a coma for a few weeks followed by rehabiliation therapy. He was left with problems with his memory, his speech and his ability to make decisions. He also suffered physical disabilities including balance and walking. Once he returned to school, he needed to be placed in special education as he was unable to keep up with regular classes. The cost of his medical care to that point came to nearly three quarters of a million dollars.

He will require life-care for the rest of his life which is expected to cost some $3,500,000. And given his disabilities he endured a loss of earning capacity of nearly $2.2 million. This is a measure of the difference in the income he was expected to have had in the event he had not been in the accident and the more limited income he will likely be able to earn due to the limitations of 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, against the driver and against the county. 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 spped limit that was too fast. The driver did not deny that she was at fault but claimed that the county and, yes, the plaintiff were also responsible. The city, in turn, claimed they were not liable either and that it was the driver and the victim who were to blame.

In preparing the case the law firm sought the services of an accident reconstruction expert, a physician specializing in 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 apparently determined that the driver was seventy nine percent at fault, the county was 20% at fault, and the student was 1% responsible for the accident. As per to the report by the law firm, at the completion of the trial, the jury came back with a verdict in the amount 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 could and should have done which would have avoided this accident. Possibly every county ought to look to this lawsuit as a model of a foreseeable and preventable catastrophe and take steps to make the region around their school safe for children. And perhaps in doing the right thing they may stop a future horrible accident that extensive alters the future of one of its students. And they might in addition lower their risk of a big adverse jury award.
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