Verdicts and Settlements:
$600,000 Recovery For Pedestrian Struck And Killed By Out of Control Vehicle On Mall Sidewalk
Stavros E. Sitinas obtained a $600,000 settlement for the estate of a man who was killed by an out of control vehicle in a strip mall parking lot. The vehicle had jumped onto the sidewalk, destroying several concrete planters and a park bench before striking and killing the victim. Tragically, this horrific event was witnessed by the 6-year-old daughter of the decedent. The recovery exceeded the total available insurance proceeds by $100,000 because Mr. Sitinas convinced the driver's family members to contribute personally to the settlement.
This terrible event occurred on a beautiful summer day when the victim and his 6-year-old daughter went to a local shopping plaza to run some errands. At the time, the father was seated on a park bench on the sidewalk in front of the stores, while his daughter played on a scooter near her father. At the same time, approximately 200 feet away, an elderly driver was attempting to back out of a parking space. What she did not realize was that she had actually placed the vehicle's transmission into "drive" rather than "reverse." As she continued to apply power to the vehicle, her front tires kept hitting the tire blocks at the front of her parking space. When the driver abruptly stepped on her gas pedal, the vehicle took off uncontrollably, driving over the tire blocks, up a curb, through a landscaped median and up onto the sidewalk of the outdoor shopping plaza. The vehicle continued driving along the sidewalk in front of the stores and toward the victim and his daughter. The victim valiantly jumped off the park bench and ran toward his daughter, who was still riding her scooter. While frantically yelling to his daughter to get out of the way, he was run over by the vehicle and instantly killed. His daughter, while physically safe, was emotionally scarred by witnessing her father's death. A witness on the scene removed the child from the site of the accident until her mother could pick her up.
Mr. Sitinas sued the 90-year-old driver of the car, who unfortunately had only $500,000 of insurance on her vehicle and no attachable assets to satisfy an excess judgment. However, Mr. Sitinas was able to negotiate an additional $100,000 of settlement proceeds from the children of the defendant driver even though they were not defendants in this action and had no legal obligation to pay anything toward the settlement of this matter. Claims were also brought on behalf of the daughter, who suffered emotional distress as a result of witnessing this horrific event. These claims were brought under a legal principle known as "Zone of Danger" emotional distress, which provides monetary compensation to immediate family members who witness that family member's accident while also being in the zone of danger themselves.