In August 2015, a 70-year-old woman was struck and severely injured by a tour bus while crossing a Los Angeles street. According to reports, the woman was being driven by her son to a doctor’s appointment when they got stuck behind a local tour bus. Fearing she would be late, the elderly woman got out of the car and began to power-walk to her destination.
She approached the intersection when there were still 7 seconds remaining on the flashing pedestrian crossing sign. After pausing to allow other pedestrians to enter the sidewalk, the woman entered the crosswalk and began to make her way across the street. At this moment, the tour bus made a right-hand turn and struck the woman while in the intersection.
As a result of the pedestrian accident, the elderly woman suffered multiple injuries, including severe leg injuries, degloving injuries, and the development of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). She filed a personal injury lawsuit against the tour bus driver and demanded compensation for her injuries.
Despite the fact that the woman crossed the intersection in violation of California state law, a Los Angeles jury decided that the tour bus driver was at-fault and awarded her more than $6 million in damages.
Comparative Fault of the Victim
The defendant in the case, the tour bus driver, argued that he should not be held responsible for the victim’s injuries because she was not supposed to be in the intersection when he turned the bus. In 2015, a California law prohibited pedestrians from entering an intersection after the crossing signal began to flash red. The victim in this case admitted that she violated California Vehicle Code §21456 by entering the crosswalk while the signal was flashing. (Note: California recently amended this law.)
In California, victims who contribute to the cause of their accident and injury are generally not barred from recovering compensation. As long as someone else is also to blame, victims can recover damages. However, the amount they can recoup will be reduced by their own degree of fault. Since the victim’s case went to trial, it was up to the jury to decide:
- If the woman contributed to the cause of her accident and injury; and
- If so, how much of the blame should be placed on her shoulders.
The jury in this case apparently believed that the majority of the blame should rest with the tour bus driver. When deciding the case, the jury seemed to believe that the woman’s actions were not a “substantial factor” in her injuries.
Instead, they firmly believed that the tour bus driver executed a turn that was simply unsafe. In depositions prior to the trial, the tour bus driver was adamant that he executed a proper and safe turn. However, at trial, the driver was forced to admit that he used several unsafe techniques to make the right-hand turn through the intersection. He also admitted that if he had made the turn properly he would have clearly seen the woman and been able to avoid the crash.
The jury not only determined that the tour bus driver was at-fault, but also decided that he should be liable for damages suffered by the victim. As a result, the awarded the woman more than $6 million. Specifically, the jury awarded $6,298,237 in damages, including those for past medical expenses, future medical expenses, past general damages, and future general damages.
Since accidents that result in serious injuries often require extensive medical care and treatment, medical expenses are one of the most commonly sought after damages in personal injury lawsuits. In California, medical expenses are a specific type of special (or economic) damage.
In this case, the injured woman was awarded $898,237 in past medical expenses and $1,400,000 in future medical expenses. The past medical expenses were likely very simple to calculate using verifiable medical bills.
Future medical expenses can be more difficult to assess. Generally speaking, future medical expenses can be awarded based on reasonable calculations and projections of costs that will likely be incurred because of an accident. These can include costs for rehabilitation, surgery, and medication.
General damages, which are also known as non-economic damages, are awarded to compensate victims for injuries and harms that do not necessarily have a direct financial cost. While these injuries are hard to value, they are no less devastating. General damages can be awarded to compensate for chronic pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. In this case, the woman was awarded $2 million in past general damages, as well as $2 million for future general damages.
Los Angeles Accident Attorney
Have you been injured in a Los Angeles pedestrian accident? If so, you should consider speaking with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. While you may be able to recover some compensation on your own, the chances of maximizing your recover increase significantly when you hire an attorney. Call the Los Angeles Accident Law Center to find out how our legal team can help you get the money you deserve after your accident. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to call us now.