Tuesday, April 7, 2009

$450,000 Settlement at Mediation for Plaintiff Suffering Severe Hip Injury After Stepping Off Bus

The settlement was reached on December 4, 2004, during a post- mediation settlement conference. The matter was scheduled to be tried in the Hudson County Superior Court on February 7, 2005. The settlement followed an October 22, 2004 mediation hearing.

The accident occurred on June 6, 2002, as the plaintiff was exiting a commuter bus. The plaintiff paid his fare and descended the stairs of the bus, waiting for the doors to open so that he could exit. After the doors opened, he realized in mid-step that the bus was still moving. He attempted to stop his forward motion, but the momentum of the slowing bus pitched him forward and to his left out the front door. He landed first on his left foot, but his leg collapsed underneath him and he fell to his left side, sustaining multiple fractures of the hip and pelvis that required extensive reconstructive surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. The surgery was followed by a thirty-day hospital admission and extensive rehabilitation therapy.

The plaintiff advised the responding officers at the scene that he simply fell, and that the accident was nobody's fault. Despite this, he also repeatedly and consistently informed health care providers immediately after the accident that he fell when attempting to exit a moving bus. The defendants denied that the bus was moving. Both sides retained biomechanical experts to address this factual dispute.

In the midst of the bodily injury litigation, a declaratory judgment action was filed by the insurance company for the defendant carrier, in an attempt to deny coverage for the accident.

In addition to a biomechanical expert, the plaintiff retained an expert in bus safety. The plaintiff also had an orthopedic, a neurology and a urology expert who were prepared to testify about the plaintiff's injuries.

Attorney John Ratkowitz represented the plaintiff throughout the course of the litigation and in the declaratory judgment action.

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