Verdicts and Settlements:
$467,500 Settlement After Plaintiff's Verdict On Liability In Auto Accident Case
Stavros E. Sitinas obtained a $467,500 recovery for a client who was injured in an auto accident that occurred at an intersection controlled by a traffic light. The issue presented was, which driver had the green light?
In a hotly contested case involving a question of lights, the defense argued that the plaintiff was travelling at an excessive rate of speed and against a red light when his vehicle collided with the defendant's 24-foot box truck, which was making a left turn from Rockaway Boulevard into a freight facility at the International Airport Center in Queens, NY. Mr. Sitinas contended that the defendant truck driver disregarded a red left-turn arrow and crossed into the plaintiff's path of travel. Mr. Sitinas conceded that at the time of the accident, the plaintiff had a yellow light and because he could not safety stop in time, he accelerated through it. However, he also argued that even if the plaintiff was speeding to get through the intersection, this was irrelevant, as the defendant disregarded a steady red left-turn arrow. Moreover, at trial Mr. Sitinas was able to prove that even if the plaintiff's light was red when he went through the intersection, the next light to turn green was for traffic exiting the freight facility and not for traffic making a left turn into the facility. Therefore, the truck had to have gone through a red light when the driver made his left turn into the facility. Mr. Sitinas was able to prove, through a Department of Transportation witness, the exact timing and sequencing of the traffic lights controlling this intersection. He was also able to prove, through a witness who was waiting for a green light to exit the freight facility, that at the time of the impact, this witness's traffic light was still red and therefore so too was the truck's light for left turns.
The jury found the defendant was 85% responsible for this accident. Prior to the jury's verdict, Mr. Sitinas and the defense attorney agreed to high/low settlement parameters of $50,000 to $550,000, avoiding the need for medical testimony at trial. As such, and based upon the jury's findings of 85% liability against the defendant, the plaintiff was awarded 85% of $550,000, or $467,500. It should be noted that one day prior to the trial, Mr. Sitinas made a demand for $300,000 to settle this matter, based upon the judge's recommendation. The insurance company refused.
As a result of this accident, the 40-year-old plaintiff sustained multiple fractures to his left arm, including his ulna and radial shaft, requiring surgery and internal fixation of the fractured bones. He also sustained a laceration to his head requiring approximately 20 staples to close the wound.