It was recently reported by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly that a young woman, who was struck by a car while jogging and suffered a closed head injury (concussion), received a favorable jury verdict in the amount of $250,000. This case stuck out to me because of the many legal issues that were presented that we have written about before and that present themselves in many personal injury cases.
This Case Falls Under the Umbrella of Pedestrian Accidents
When a pedestrian, including a jogger, is hit by a car and injured, he or she may be entitled to compensation for the injuries and damages sustained in the accident. The injured pedestrian can file a personal injury claim with the insurance company that insures vehicle that struck the pedestrian.
As with other personal injury cases in Massachusetts, the injured party must establish that the driver of the motor vehicle was negligent and that their negligence was the cause of the pedestrian’s injuries.
An injured pedestrian will seek financial compensation for the damages they suffered in the accident. The damages in a personal injury claim include, but are not limited to medical bills, lost wages or lost earnings, and pain and suffering.
Insurance Companies Try to Find Ways to Deny Injury Claims
When a personal injury claim is filed, insurance companies will conduct an investigation in order to determine if their insured was responsible for causing the accident and injuries. Typically, insurance companies try to protect their insured and save money for their business. Insurance companies employ the use of different tactics to deny personal injury claims.
In the reported case of the jogger, the insurance company denied liability and claimed that the jogger stepped out into traffic. The report indicated that the jogger suffered a serious closed head injury, diagnosed as a concussion and post-concussion syndrome, and had no memory of the accident. This fact presumably made it easier for the insurance company to deny liability because the jogger could not tell her side of the story.
When an insurance company denies liability, as in the case of the jogger, the injured party has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts. That’s exactly what the jogger did.
Overview of Traumatic Brain Injuries / Concussions
The article of the jogger reported that she suffered a closed head injury, specifically a concussion. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Concussions are caused by a blow to the head that disrupts the normal brain functions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that motor vehicle crashes were the third overall cause of TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths.
It was also reported that the injured jogger developed post-concussion syndrome. This syndrome is a medical condition where the concussion symptoms continue or last for a significant period of time. Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include concentration problems, irritability, sensitivity to light, sleep disturbances, and depression.
Head injuries and post-concussion syndrome can be extremely debilitating. While the article of the jogger did not set forth the amount of medical bills or lost wages the jogger incurred, the $250,000 jury verdict surely indicates how serious the jury found the injuries and damages to be.
The Jury Allocated Some Fault to the Jogger
The reported case of the jogger states that the jury assigned 33% of fault to the jogger. There were no facts reported in the article that explained why the jury allocated some fault to the jogger. There was mention, however, of a witness that placed the accident close to a berm where the jogger was running. Perhaps that had something to do with it.
In Massachusetts, we have a modified comparative negligence law. This means that a plaintiff cannot recover any money for his or her injuries if a jury finds him or her to be 51% or more at fault for the accident. If the plaintiff is found to have contributed less than 51% toward the accident (like the jogger in the reported case), then he or she can recover money. The amount of money, however, will be reduced by the percentage of fault the jury assigned to the plaintiff.
Get Expert Legal Advice Today from Our Personal Injury Attorneys
Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has over 35 years of experience handling personal injury claims. We have successfully represented many pedestrians, who were hit and seriously injured by cars while crossing the street. Our experience and knowledge of injury cases offer accident victims an advantage against insurance companies in getting fair compensation for injuries.
Call us today at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.