Verdicts & Settlements

Motor Vehicle Negligence – Truck/Auto Intersection Collision – Failure Of Landscape Truck Driver To Stop At Red Light

$990,000

The plaintiff contended that the defendant driver of a landscaping truck negligently ran a red light, causing the collision that took the life of the 21 year old driver, an unmarried college senior. The plaintiff maintained that the decedent, who suffered massive injuries, was conscious and in great pain and distress at the scene. The plaintiff also maintained that although unconscious for most of the period between the time of the collision and his death several weeks later, the decedent experienced occasional periods in which he was conscious and in pain despite medication. The decedent was home visiting his parents and had gone out for a haircut when the motor vehicle accident occurred.

The evidence disclosed that the decedent was stopped in the right lane with an SUV to his left. The SUV driver would have testified that when the light changed, he observed that the defendant failed to stop at the red light and did not proceed. The plaintiff contended that the decedent’s view was obstructed and that he proceeded because he did not observe the defendant.

The plaintiff would have presented EMT workers who came to the decedent’s assistance. The witnesses would have testified that the decedent was conscious and in great distress from the massive internal injuries at the scene. The father would have testified that his son was occasionally conscious in the hospital over the next few weeks and that when he realized that he was probably going to die, a tear came down his cheek.

The plaintiff would have also made a claim for the pecuniary value of the loss of guidance and advice under Green v. Bitner. The plaintiff maintained that the family was very close knit and that the losses were substantial. The evidence disclosed that the mother had recently purchased a digital camera and the decedent showed her how to use it. The last photograph of him that she took was of the decedent leaving the house to het his hair cut.

The defendant had a $1,000,000 policy. The case settled prior to trial for $990,000.

REFERENCE
T.G. v. J.E., et al. Docket no.: MID-L-8162-07, 12-01-09
Attorney for plaintiff, Charles A. Cerussi of Cerussi & Gunn, P.C. in Shrewsbury, NJ and Garden City, NY

COMMENTARY:
The plaintiff was able to obtain a recovery that was only slightly less than the $1,000,000 policy limit, notwithstanding that the decedent, who was unmarried and had no children, experienced only brief pain and suffering at the scene and was unconscious most of the time between the collision and his death several weeks later. The plaintiff, who would have produced testimony of the EMT workers that the decedent was in great pain and distress at the scene, would have pointed Clark v. UMDNJ 390 N.J. Super. 108 (App Dis. 2006), in which a $2,000,000 award for two minutes of pain and suffering and a $1,000,000 award for Green/Bitner damages was sustained by the Appellate Division. Regarding the loss of guidance and advice, it is felt that the plaintiff’s evidence that on the day of his death, the decedent had shown his mother how to use a recently purchased digital camera, and that the last photo she took of him was when he left the home to get his haircut, shortly before the fatal collision occurred, would have had a significant impact on the jury if the case had been tried.