In May, a Brooklyn jury awarded over $36,000,000.00 in damages in a case involving a 12 year old boy on a bicycle struck by a speeding motorist. The victim sustained fractures of the skull and ankle, as well as brain damage after being struck by the defendant, who, according to investigators, was driving 24 mph in excess of the speed limit. The boy’s mother, acting both individually and on behalf of her son as his guardian, sued the driver for negligently operating his motor vehicle; the owner of the vehicle, claiming vicarious liability; and the city of New York for negligently failing to address a persistently dangerous condition that caused the accident.
In suing the city, the plaintiff contended that speeding was a persistent problem on the road where the accident occurred. The plaintiff claimed that the city knew this, yet failed to implement measures to deter speeding. As such, this failure to act constituted a proximate cause to the boy’s injuries.
Along with damages for pain and suffering and medical expenses, the plaintiff sought damages for future lost earnings. An expert for the plaintiff testified that prior to his injury, the boy would have been able to earn a salary equal to or above the national average. Due to the brain damage sustained in the accident, however, the child now stands to earn a minimal salary because of the probability that he will only be able to maintain part-time employment. The plaintiff asked for $6 million in lost future earnings.
The jury found liability to be 50% for the car owner and driver, 40% for the city, and 10% for the child. The final damage award found by the jury was $36,161,797.52. Subtracting the 10% comparitive-negligence for the boy, the total damages awarded to the plaintiff family were $32,545,617.77. The insurer for the individually named defendants is obligated to contribute $50,000.00. In all likelihood, this is all that they will contribute. The rest of the damages fall to the city to pay. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, the city must pay all remaining economic damages, but only 30% of the noneconomic damages. Thus, the $31M+ figure will likely come down. It is still a substantial monetary award, but doubtless an award the family would forego to have avoided the accident altogether. Robert Walker, Esq. of Mineola, NY represented the plaintiff in this case.
Website Resource: New York Law Journal