Butler Kahn recently obtained a $2,300,000 settlement in a pedestrian accident case. On Mother’s Day 2022, our client was out enjoying a morning walk when she was struck by an inattentive driver inside a marked crosswalk. Instead of celebrating the day with her daughter and husband, our 73-year-old client spent the next several weeks in the hospital undergoing painful surgeries and rehabilitation. This was the second time she’d been hit in a crosswalk and suffered serious orthopedic injuries.
Here’s more about the case.
Facts of the Pedestrian Accident
At approximately 8 am on May 8, 2022, our client was walking along the sidewalk of Sewell Mill Road in east Cobb County, Georgia. Having started her roughly 3.5 mile walk earlier in the morning, she was wearing a reflective vest to make herself more visible to motorists for safety. She was less than a mile from her house when she approached the intersection of Sewell Mill Road and Holly Springs Road, stopped to press the crossing signal, and proceeded to enter the marked crosswalk once the “walk” signal displayed. As she was just over halfway through the intersection, she was struck by an inattentive driver who was attempting to turn left onto Holly Springs Road. The at-fault driver’s side view mirror and windshield hit our client, sending her tumbling across the windshield before landing hard on the pavement.
The approximate location of the collision
The at-fault driver’s statements made it clear that the driver was not paying attention to the road. In Georgia, all drivers have a duty to maintain a proper lookout for potential hazards. The driver stated to the investigating police officer that she never saw our client until the collision. In later deposition testimony, the at-fault driver confirmed that she did not see our client until after she turned left and it was too late to avoid hitting our client. The at-fault driver was issued a citation for failure to yield.
The at-fault driver’s statement from the police report
Our Client’s Injuries and Treatment
The force of the impact caused multiple fractures to both of our client’s arms, a nasal bone fracture and traumatic brain injury, a facial laceration requiring stitches, extensive bruising across her body, and fractures to her cervical spine, left foot, and right pinky finger. Our client was hospitalized for several weeks while she underwent multiple orthopedic surgeries to repair the fractures to both of her arms, followed by a long and painful period of rehabilitation.
Medical illustrations show the severity of our client’s fractures in her arms
Our client’s left arm was so badly broken that doctors had to drill a metal rod through the humerus (upper arm), wrap wires around the multiple pieces of broken bone, and screw metal plates into our client’s elbow. The radial nerve, which runs alongside the humerus and down the arm, was also injured. This caused our client to suffer from “wrist drop,” meaning that our client was unable to lift her left hand. In order to show the jury what this surgery involved, Butler Kahn obtained medical illustrations detailing the procedure step-by-step (link to one, link to two), and worked with our client’s surgeon to make sure the illustrations were accurate.
Without the use of either arm, our client needed help with even the most basic of daily activities. While still largely confined to a hospital bed, our client worked hard to get better through extensive physical and occupational therapy at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Our client also underwent cognitive therapy to help with the memory problems and cognitive issues that she was experiencing as a result of the traumatic brain injury she suffered. After being hospitalized for over two weeks, our client was finally able to return home. There, she continued with a long, painful process of regaining her ability to perform daily activities through in-home therapy for several more months.
$2,300,000 Personal Injury Settlement
Butler Kahn filed a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in Cobb County, Georgia. As in any case with serious injuries, one of our concerns was that at-fault driver might not have enough insurance coverage or assets to pay for our client’s damages. That appeared to be the case before we filed the lawsuit, because the at-fault driver’s insurance company failed to disclose their $2,000,000 umbrella policy until after their customer had been sued. Allstate Insurance Company had previously only told us about a single insurance policy for $300,000, which was less money than our client’s medical bills alone.
Once we had verified the correct amount of insurance coverage, Butler Kahn and our client decided to extend one opportunity for the insurance company to settle the case before trial. The timing of this settlement offer was important, because if we made the offer too soon, we might not have a complete picture of our client’s future medical needs. After consulting with our client and her doctors to determine her point of maximum medical improvement, we offered to settle for the full insurance limits of $2,300,000. By this time, we had built a strong case for trial. The insurance company recognized that fact, and agreed to settle the case for $2,300,000.
Preventing Future Pedestrian Accidents
Unfortunately, this was not the first time that our client had been injured in a pedestrian accident. In 2020, our client had been hit by another inattentive driver who ran a red light while our client was crossing inside a marked crosswalk. On that occasion, she suffered a broken thumb, facial cuts and abrasions, and other injuries.
In both accidents, our client had taken precautions, including wearing a reflective vest and checking for traffic before crossing inside a marked crosswalk with the “walk” signal activated. While our client’s injuries in the 2020 accident were less severe, our client considers herself lucky to be alive after the Mother’s Day 2022 accident.
Our client’s experience appears to reflect a larger trend in pedestrian safety. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, an average of 20 pedestrians are killed every day nationwide. Pedestrian deaths are increasing at a faster rate than all other traffic fatalities, particularly since the pandemic.
Source: Governor’s Highway Safety Association
One explanation for this disturbing trend is a lack of adequate infrastructure such as sidewalks, crosswalks, and lighting in many parts of the country. Another explanation is the surge in dangerous driving that began at the start of the pandemic and has not lessened. But our client’s experience shows that pedestrian accidents can happen even despite marked crosswalks, reflective vests, and drivers who aren’t necessarily distracted but are nonetheless not looking out for people on foot.
At Butler Kahn, we hope to increase awareness of this pedestrian safety crisis. Most drivers know to look out for other cars on the road, but they fail to expect pedestrians much in the same way that drivers miss motorcycles and bicycles on the road. One proposal to increase driver yielding behavior is the use of “Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons” at crossing locations. These are active (user-actuated) or passive (automated detection) amber LEDs that use an irregular flash pattern to draw driver’s attention to the fact that a pedestrian is actively crossing in that location. Other crosswalk enhancements, such as yield markings and high visibility paint, also help to prevent crashes.