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New York Court Discusses Damages in Car Accidents Harming Children

Careless driving not only causes collisions between vehicles but can cause crashes involving pedestrians as well. The injuries brought about by a car hitting a person can be significant, especially if the person is a minor. It follows, then, that as demonstrated in a recent New York ruling in which the court evaluated a jury’s verdict, the damages awarded in cases arising out of such crashes can be substantial. If you or your child were hurt in a car crash, you should speak to a Syracuse personal injury lawyer about your rights.

Background of the Case

It is alleged that when the minor plaintiff was crossing a crosswalk, she was struck by a truck owned by the defendant bakery and driven by the defendant’s employee. The minor plaintiff’s mother filed a lawsuit on behalf of the minor plaintiff and herself, alleging injuries stemming from the incident. Following a jury trial, both the minor plaintiff and the defendant’s employee were deemed negligent, but the minor plaintiff’s negligence was not considered a substantial factor in bringing about the collision.

It is reported that the evidence presented at trial highlighted the minor plaintiff’s severe injuries, including skull fractures and brain bleeding. Expert testimonies diverged on the minor plaintiff’s diagnosis, however, with one recommending surgery for facial asymmetry arguing such surgery was not necessary. The jury awarded the minor plaintiff $280,000 for past pain and suffering, $2,000,000 for future pain and suffering, and $200,250 for future medical costs. The defendants then moved to set aside the verdict, arguing it was excessive.

Evaluating Damages Awards Under New York Law

On appeal, the court examined whether the jury’s verdict regarding contributory negligence was inconsistent under New York law. The defendants argued that the minor plaintiff’s negligence in failing to look for oncoming traffic should have been considered a substantial factor in causing the accident. However, the court found the argument unconvincing, suggesting that the minor plaintiff’s actions might not have significantly altered the outcome given the circumstances, namely her position behind a support beam in the crosswalk.

The court reasoned that the minor plaintiff’s failure to observe oncoming traffic while crossing with the walk signal did not necessarily contribute substantially to the accident, especially if the truck driver was crossing against the light. The court also analyzed whether the jury’s award of $2,000,000 for future pain and suffering was excessive. Defendants argued that the award was not supported by evidence of continuing medical treatment.

However, the court disagreed, noting substantial evidence presented at trial indicating the significant and long-lasting impact of the minor plaintiff’s injuries on her daily life, including severe chronic pain, decreased academic success, and decreased self-esteem. The court also considered the minor plaintiff’s young age at the time of the accident, suggesting that her future prospects might be more substantially impacted by her injuries compared to an adult. Ultimately, the court denied the motion to reduce the award, finding it within a normal range compared to similar cases.

However, the court did grant the motion to set aside the jury’s award of $200,250 for future medical expenses, deeming it speculative and not supported by evidence presented at trial.

Meet with a Seasoned Syracuse Personal Injury Attorney

Car accidents involving minors can cause permanent detriments, and people who negligently cause crashes that injure children should be held accountable. If your child suffered harm in a collision, you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our seasoned Syracuse personal injury attorneys will assess your harm and help you pursue any damages you may be owed. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to arrange a conference.

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