Jury Increases Award of Compensation for Falling in a Hole Left by a Utility Company

A New Jersey jury has increased an award of compensation for falling in a hole left by a utility company after an arbitrated settlement was appealed.

In April 2012, the Jersey Central Power & Light Company (JCP&L) removed a broken pole from outside the Barnegat Township property owned by Nancy Jacobs. The removal of the pole left a four-inch by six-inch hole by the bottom of Nancy´s driveway that the utility company highlighted with iridescent paint and placed a warning cone over.

Over the next two months, grass grew around the hole – obscuring the painted area – and the warning cone vanished. Nancy´s partner considered the open hole to be a hazard, and he wrote to JCP&L complaining about the condition of the hole. The utility company did not reply or take any action to isolate or fill the hazard.

On June 18th 2012, Nancy was walking down the driveway outside her home, when she was diverted from the driveway by an operating sprinkler system. As she approached the curb, her right foot went into the hole – causing her to fall backwards in a twisting motion that resulted in a torn meniscus cartilage in her knee and the aggravation of an existing back condition.

After seeking legal advice, Nancy claimed compensation for falling in a hole left by a utility company. JCP&L denied liability and argued that – within the scope and extent of industry maintenance standards – the company had acted reasonable. Mandated arbitration led to Nancy being awarded $400,000 compensation for falling in a hole left by a utility company.

JCP&L appealed the arbitrated settlement and the case was heard by a jury at Ocean County Superior Court before Judge James Den Uyl. The jury determined that the value of Nancy´s claim was $650,000, but attributed her 20% comparative negligence as she had known for two months that the hole existed. Consequently Nancy will receive $520,000 compensation for falling in a hole left by a utility company.


Cyclist´s Broken Hip Compensation Settlement Upheld on Appeal

A cyclist´s $439,000 broken hip compensation settlement – originally awarded by a jury in 2013 – has been upheld by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

On 6th August 2011, John Currier was cycling in the Lloyd District of Portland, when he had to take evasive action to avoid a car that was waiting to pull out from the Washman car wash on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, and was blocking both the cycle lane and the sidewalk.

Rather than pull out from the cycle lane into the heavy traffic, John cycled around the rear of the vehicle and onto the forecourt of the car wash. Unfortunately the forecourt of the car wash was particularly slippery and John fell from his bike – breaking his hip and suffering a serious elbow injury.

John claimed compensation from Washman LLC for his injuries, and in 2013 an Oregon jury awarded him $439,000 compensation after finding that the driver of the car – Dorothy Williams – had done nothing wrong, and that John was 30% responsible for his injuries due to his comparative negligence.

Washman LLC appealed the broken hip compensation settlement on the grounds that, by choosing to cycle onto the forecourt of the car wash, John was effectively trespassing. Lawyers for the company argued that it was not established at the original hearing that John had any right to be on the property.

At the Appeals Court hearing, the panel of judges heard John´s lawyer argue that it was “community custom” for cyclists and walkers to cross the parking lots and driveways of businesses — and to assume they were allowed to do so.

The panel of judges agreed with John´s lawyer and upheld the jury´s broken hip compensation settlement. Presiding Judge Timothy Sercombe told the court that despite Washman LLC´s arguments, John was not trespassing and the car wash had a duty of care to keep its pavement safe.


Court Says No New Trial in Pedestrian Bus Accident Claim

The New York Supreme Court has refused plaintiffs in a pedestrian bus accident claim a new trial after a jury award of compensation was considered modest.

Leslie Lariviere (39) suffered a head injury on 9th December 2008 when she was hit on the head by a bus´s side view mirror as she crossed a street in Brooklyn. Leslie was taken to hospital by ambulance, where a CT scan failed to reveal any brain injury and she was diagnosed with concussion.

Told to go home and rest, Leslie experienced dizzy spells and feelings of nausea over the following weeks. In January 2009 she suffered a seizure and was hospitalized for four days. As she was often suffering headaches and migraines, Leslie was unable to return to her job as a restaurant hostess and became a recluse.

To recover compensation for her medical bills and loss of income, Leslie made a pedestrian bus accident claim against the New York City Transport Authority. She was granted a summary judgement on liability in 2011, and – after a failed appeal by the New York City Transport Authority – her pedestrian bus accident claim was heard at the New York Appellant Court for the assessment of damages.

At the Appellant Court, expert witnesses gave evidence that Leslie had a significant and ongoing brain injury. However, lawyers for the New York City Transit Authority argued that she was not being honest about her symptoms and persuaded the jury that Leslie´s injury was relatively minor and exaggerated by a pre-existing condition.

The jury awarded Leslie $152,000 compensation in settlement of her bus accident claim to account for her past pain and suffering as well as her medical bills and loss of income. Leslie´s husband, David, was also awarded compensation for the loss of services by his wife.

Leslie´s lawyers were unhappy with the award and entered a motion for a new hearing. They claimed that comments made by defense lawyers were prejudicial to the settlement of compensation awarded by the jury. However, the New York Supreme Court denied the motion – saying that in the context of the hearing, the comments had not denied Leslie a fair trial.


Man Awarded Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries Caused by Tree Branch

A man, who sustained multiple injuries when a rotted tree branch fell on his car, has been awarded $765,000 compensation for catastrophic injuries by a Columbia County jury.

Bill Kocher from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, was driving to work along the main road in the village of Lightstreet when, in July 2010, a branch separated from a rotted tree stem and crashed down on top of his car.

Bill spent sixteen days in intensive care receiving treatment for a series of catastrophic injuries which included a collapsed lung, a fractured sternum, a broken humerus and broken ribs. He had to undergo surgery to insert an intramedullary nail rod and skin grafts on his chest.

After his discharge from hospital, Bill sought legal advice and claimed compensation for catastrophic injuries against the owner of the property outside which the tree was located, and the township of Lightstreet – alleging that both had a duty of care to remove dangerous branches that posed a threat to public safety.

Both defendants denied their liability for Bill´s injuries. The homeowners stated that it was not their responsibility to maintain a tree outside of their property – the tree being situated between the sidewalk and the main road – and the township claiming that they had a responsibility to maintain the roads but not the trees that grew alongside them.

However, at Columbia County Court, the jury was told that the tree in question was located five feet away from the homeowner´s front porch and that they had conducted maintenance on it previously. The jury also heard that, under the township´s maintenance program, crews routinely removed dangerous branches that were a public hazard.

The jury found both defendants jointly liable for the injuries that Bill sustained, and awarded him $765,000 compensation for the catastrophic injuries he had suffered due to the defendants´ negligence – the second largest settlement of a personal injury claim to be awarded in Columbia County.


Glass Ban Introduced to Reduce Accidents on Las Vegas Strip

Clark County Commissioners have approved a ban on all glass containers between Russell Road and Sahara Avenue to reduce the number of accidents on Las Vegas Strip.

From September 26th, everybody carrying a drink along Las Vegas Boulevard must do so in a plastic or paper container according to a new ordinance announced by Clark County Commissioners this week. The move comes in an attempt to reduce accidents on Las Vegas Strip and reduce the potential for injuries from violence, but the new law has been met with criticism by some bar and store owners.

The ordinance was approved after the Deputy Chief of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department – Todd Fasulo – gave evidence to Commissioners that a ban on glass containers would help keep the resort corridor clean and cut down on the injuries from violence. Deputy Chief Fasulo said that there had been an increase in violent crime since 2011 where glass containers had been involved and one recent homicide.

However, Barry Yost – owner of a 7-Eleven franchise on the Strip – argued that there was not that amount of garbage on the Strip and that the move to ban glass could be detrimental to tourism in the area. He claims that making visitors to Las Vegas drink from plastic and paper containers will reduce the enjoyment of their experience and they will start to visit less often.

Local tourists were divided on the issue – some claiming that any move to reduce accidents on Las Vegas Strip was a good one, especially when a high volume of alcohol was being consumed, while others believed that the ordinance was not in keeping with the Strip´s reputation as a non-stop party venue.

How difficult the ordinance will be to enforce after September 26th is an issue for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, who will have the powers to charge people drinking from glass containers and fine them for a misdemeanor.


Man Recovers Compensation for Crushed Legs in Tow Truck Accident after Claim

A man from Dakota County in Minnesota has recovered $1.745 million compensation for crushed legs in a tow truck accident that happened on the day that he retired from his business.

On July 19 2011, Dean Bauer´s pickup would not start, and he called AAA for assistance. When the tow truck arrived, Dean and the driver of the truck decided to try one further time to see if they could get Dean´s vehicle to start and Dean popped the hood. While Dean stood looking into the engine compartment, the tow truck rolled backwards into him, crushing him against the front of his pickup and breaking both his legs.

Dean (now 68 years of age) had just retired from his commercial and residential trade business on the day the accident happened and, after seeking legal advice, he made a compensation claim for crushed legs on a tow truck accident against the company that owned the tow truck – Onamia Service Center. Onamia admitted liability for Dean´s injury and settled out of court for $765,000 in October 2013.

Dean also had UIM coverage, and because the maximum settlement available from Onamia Service Center was $1 million, he also sued his own insurers. Dean´s insurance carrier made an offer of $100,000 compensation for crushed legs in a tow truck accident, but – on advice – Dean rejected the offer and the case went to a jury hearing at Dakota County District Court before Judge Thomas M. Pugh.

At the hearing, the jury awarded Dean a further $980,309 for bodily injury and the impact that the accident would have on Dean´s future quality of life – bringing the total amount of compensation recovered to $1.745 million over the two claims.


Jury Awards $2.1 Million Injury Compensation for Bus Stop Accident

A jury in Los Angeles has awarded a woman $2.1 million injury compensation for a bus stop accident which left her permanently disabled.

Edia Cordero was seated on a bus stop bench at the intersection of Tyrone Avenue and Vanowen Street in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, when – on 1st June 2009 – a vehicle driven by Berj Gabrielyan went out of control and hit both Edia and a passing pedestrian – Roxana Garcia.

Ms Garcia sustained a fractured knee as a result of the accident, but Edia (33) was seriously injured and rushed to hospital in a coma with multiple injuries which included broken ribs, a fractured pelvis, a collapsed lung and a broken hip.

Edia remained in a coma for three weeks before being transferred to the San Fernando Post Acute Hospital for further treatment. Due to the subarachnoid hemorrhage and hematoma she suffered at the time of the bus stop accident, Edia now suffers from cognitive issues and blurred vision.

As a result of her other injuries, Edia has to use a walking aid because of the nerve damage she sustained to her right leg, and is still on anti-inflammatory and anti-depression medication five years after the accident. According to her physical rehabilitation expert, Edia requires a caregiver ten years earlier than would normally be expected.

Edia and Garcia both claimed injury compensation for a bus stop accident against Gabrielyan and liability for their injuries was admitted by his estate after Gabrielyan had passed away in November 2011. Roxanna Garcia settled her claim for bus stop accident compensation for $100,000, but a similar offer made to Edia was declined, and the claim for damages proceeded to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County in Van Nuys, where it was heard by Judge Randy Rhodes and a twelve-person jury.

After hearing arguments from both parties about the extent of Edia´s injuries, the jury voted by a majority decision to award Edia $2,121,863 injury compensation for her bus stop accident, $466,863 being accountable for past medical costs, $180,000 awarded for future medical costs, $475,000 for past personal injury, and $1 million for the pain and suffering Edia will experience in the future.


Claim for Injury Compensation for Trip on Cracked Drainage Cover Settled

A sanitary service driver from Marin in San Rafael has been awarded $105,000 compensation for a trip on a cracked drainage cover after a disagreement over liability was settled.

Marc Green had just stepped down from his sanitary service vehicle in December 2011, when he tripped on a cracked drainage cover outside of Kovac Motors on East Francisco Boulevard, San Rafael, and fell heavily onto the sidewalk – sustaining injuries which prevented him from working for several weeks.

Marc made a workers claim for injury compensation for a trip on a cracked drainage cover against both Kovac Motors and the City of San Rafael; claiming that both parties had failed to properly install and maintain the drainage cover, and he supported his injury claim with pictures taken of the broken cover.

Both Kovac Motors and the City of San Rafael blamed each other for Marc´s injuries – each claiming that the other had the responsibility to maintain the drainage cover – until Marc´s worker compensation insurance company intervened and filed a lawsuit to recover the money they had already paid to Marc against both the automotive company and the City.

After a period of negotiation, the two defendants agreed to a 75/25 split of liability; which will see Kovac Motors´ public liability insurers paying $78,500 compensation for a trip on a cracked drainage cover and the balance paid by the City of San Rafael.

Speaking after the settlement had been agreed, a lawyer representing the City of San Rafael commented that the city´s position had remained unchanged, and that it still believed that the maintenance of the drainage cover was the responsibility of Kovac Motors; however, the City was prepared to settle its share of the claim in order to save ongoing legal expenses.

Almost two years after his accident, Marc has recovered from his injuries and returned to work


Jury Awards Compensation for Injuries Caused by Drunk Driver

A twenty-nine year old man from Chicago has been awarded $2.4 million in compensation for injuries caused by a drunk driver after a hearing at Cook County Court.

Stephen Dewart was distributing fliers for his wife’s wedding consulting business when, in May 2011, a Streets & Sanitation worker lost control of his truck and drove it onto the sidewalk – striking Stephen and six other pedestrians on the corner of Rush and Cedar by the Near North Side in Chicago.

Stephen suffered multiple serious injuries as a result of the accident, including several fractures of his spine and a broken leg. Stephen had a metal rod inserted into his leg, underwent two addition surgeries to try to repair the damage to his leg and required months of rehabilitation following the accident in order to learn how to walk again.

The driver of the truck – Dwight Washington – was found by police to have a blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit and an opened bottle of brandy was discovered in the cab of his truck. Washington was charged with drink-driving and is now serving a prison sentence.

Stephen sought legal advice and made a compensation claim for injuries caused by a drunk driver against Dwight Washington and the City of Chicago, on the basis that Washington was a city-employee at the time of the accident and that the City of Chicago was liable for his actions.

Liability for Stephen´s injuries was admitted by the City of Chicago before the scheduled trial began, and consequently the jury was told that the hearing was now for the assessment of damages only. After hearing the circumstances of the accident and the injuries that Stephen had received, the jury awarded €2.4 million to Stephen in compensation for injuries caused by a drunk driver.


Haringey Council Aim to Reduce Injury Claims for Trips on Footpath Potholes

Haringey Council in North London has announced plans to revise the frequency at which potholes on pavements are inspected and repaired in a bid to reduce injury claims for trips on sidewalk potholes.

The decision to invest more resources into maintaining the council´s streets and pavements follows the seven-figure compensation settlement of an injury claim for a trip on a sidewalk pothole paid to Kyle Bullock earlier this year, after the charity worker sustained a brain injury when tripping on a three-inch pothole in the pavement on Lightfoot Road in Hornsey.

An investigation following the settlement of the claim revealed that the Council´s policy of inspecting its pavements and roads every six months – and only filling potholes with a depth of two inches or more – was costing more money in the settlement of injury claims for trips on sidewalk potholes than it was saving.

A spokesperson for Haringey Council said that the pavements and roads within the borough would be inspected more frequently; with repairs being undertaken within six days (rather than the present twenty-eight days) on potholes with a depth of one inch or greater. The improvements to the pavements and roads within Haringey´s boundaries are expected to be completed within six months at a cost of £109 million.


Stately Home Injury Compensation Awarded to Man for Fall on Grounds

A man, who badly fractured his ankle after a fall into a landscaping feature intended to stop animals roaming into the grounds of Hopetoun House, has been awarded £8,750 stately home injury compensation at the Court of Sessions in Edinburgh.

John Cowan from Livingston, West Lothian, had been visiting the historic building with his five-year-old grandson Ross on an organised tour during which visitors look for bats in the grounds of Hopetoun House while armed only with torches. It was as John and his grandson were making their way back to the parking lot that John stepped over the landscaping feature – known as a “ha-ha” – and fell five feet into the trench below, fracturing his ankle.

As John had recently undergone an operation for thyroid cancer, he was unable to shout for help and it was only when his grandson caught the attention of a passer-by that medical assistance was summoned. As a result of his fall on the grounds of Hopetoun House, John had to undergo a series of operations on his ankle; after which he sought legal advice about making a claim for stately home injury compensation.

The Hopetoun House Preservation Trust disputed John´s stately home injury compensation claim, stating that all the visitors to the historic house had been given instructions on how to safely return to their vehicles at the conclusion of the tour. John said he had not heard the ranger issue instructions, as he had taken his grandson to the bathroom at the time.

At the Court of Sessions, Lord Bracadale found in John´s favour, but reduced a proposed settlement of £35,000 by 75 percent to reflect John´s contributory negligence. He said “I find that the pursuer (Mr Cowan) did not hear these directions, no doubt because he was engaged in attending to the needs of Ross, and ended up walking in the dark on a route that would inevitably take him to the ha-ha at a point where there was a drop of about 5ft”.


Child Receives Compensation for Scar Injury after Trip and Fall at Construction Site

A girl from Dublin is to receive 20,000 Euros in compensation for scar injury after she tripped and fell into a hole dug by a local construction company.

Kodie Geoghegan Dowdall (12) of Ballymun, Dublin, was just seven years of age when, in December 2006, she tripped and fell into the hole while on her way to visit her aunt. Despite receiving medical treatment for her injuries, Kodie developed a scar which failed to heal and, through her mother, made an accident injury compensation claim against the construction company – SIAC Construction of Clondalkin, Dublin.

SIAC Construction denied responsibility for Kodie´s accident, however made an offer of compensation for scar injury without admission of liability. In Dublin´s Circuit Civil Court, Mr Justice Matthew Deery heard that the offer of 20,000 Euros would be adequate for Kodie to receive appropriate treatment once she turned eighteen to have the scar removed.

Approving the compensation for scar injury, Mr Justice Matthew Deery ordered the funds to be paid into court – a normal procedure in child accident compensation claims – until such time as Kodie is old enough to have the revision surgery performed.


Pedestrian Knocked Down by Bus at Pedestrian Crossing awarded £6.6m

An award of £6.6m in compensation for a pedestrian knocked down  by a bus on a pedestrian crossing is to be made after representatives of the bus company agreed to a settlement just as the jury were being seated at the Alameda County Superior Court.

On November 3 2008, Abby Nichols (23) of Oakland, California, had just completed her day’s work at the San Francisco bagel shop in which she worked as an assistant, and began crossing the road at the junction of Telegraph Avenue and 51st Street.

Despite the green light being in her favour, a bus turned into the road, knocking Abby over, and trapping her underneath the chassis of the automobile. She was stuck beneath the bus for another 15 minutes, as the bus driver did not know how to operate the hydraulic lever, and Abby sustained a crushed hip that needed to be replaced, a broken pelvis and femur.

The bus firm, AC Transit, discovered in their own examination that the bus driver was guilty of negligence but failed to arrange a quick settlement for Abby. It was only when a case was taken that Abby – who stills undergoes physical therapy and can only walk with the aid of a cane – managed to obtain the bus injury compensation to which she was entitled.


Injured by Van Crossing Road – £150k settlement

A woman who was injured by a van while crossing a road has been awarded almost £150,000 in personal injury compensation in the High Court.

Amy McKernan was crossing the road at a busy junction on May 7th 2002, when she was struck by a van driven by Yuk Fong from Dublin. The force of the collision threw her onto the bonnet of the vehicle, before she landed on the road surface – sustaining facial and back injuries.

In her claim against Mr Fong and the registered owner of the van – Mr Yau Tsali Li – Amy claimed that the van was driven at excessive speed, as she had seen the van pulling away from the Chinese restaurant outside which it had been parked and felt she still had plenty of time to cross the road.

Yuk Fong and Yau Tsali Li denied the claims, and counter-claimed that Amy had contributed to her own injuries by failing to keep a proper lookout for oncoming traffic. However, as Amy was about to step onto the pavement when the accident occurred, Mr. Justice John Quirke at the High Court determined that Amy had established negligence in the driving of the van, whereas the defendants had failed to show that Amy had in any way been responsible for the accident and her injuries.