Posts tagged with "personal injury"

$49,500 Settlement against Distracted Driver

A contractor from Bethlehem, Connecticut received $49,500 in a civil settlement for injuries sustained in an auto collision when his truck was rear-ended by a distracted driver.

The plaintiff was rear-ended while stopped on a road in Westport, Connecticut. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff suffered an aggravation of cervical spondylosis and required physical therapy and cervical injection therapy.  While no neck surgery was performed, medical examination reported the plaintiff was left with an impairment of the cervical spine, a condition that was contested by the insurance carrier for the defendant.

The defendant was a young professional from Trumbull Connecticut.  After the collision, an open laptop computer was found on the defendant’s front passenger seat in the automobile.  The defendant admitted negligence, admitting to both taking his eyes off the roadway as well as rear-ending the plaintiff at an impact speed of 25-30 miles per hour.

The lawsuit was settled for $49,500 before trial after discovery was complete and a medical examination was performed.

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to an automobile accident or a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

Connecticut Now Requires Insurers to Prove Prejudice from Late Notice of Claim

Most insurance policies require the insured to give the carrier notice of a claim “as soon as practical,” or words to that effect. For the past 24 years, in order to avoid denial of their claims, Connecticut has required policyholders to demonstrate that their insurance company was not prejudiced on the ground of late notice.  The Connecticut Supreme Court recently reversed itself to the extent prior law allocated to the insured the burden of disproving prejudice.  In so doing, Connecticut joins the vast majority of states that require carriers to prove prejudice as a result of late notice of claims in order to deny coverage on that ground.

Arrowood Indemnity Co. v. King, 304 Conn. 179 (2012) arose from an insured’s son towing a friend on a skateboard behind an all-terrain vehicle.  The friend fell and was severely injured.  The respective families continued to socialize and there was no mention of the commencement of litigation as a result of the incident.  Nearly a year later, the insured got a not-so-friendly letter from the attorney representing the friend’s family informing them of a potential lawsuit.  Then, and only then, did the insured’s family report the incident to their insurance company.  The insurance company declined coverage, in part, on the basis of an untimely claim.  Under preexisting law, in order to obtain coverage, the insured would have to prove that the carrier was not prejudiced by the delay.

The Connecticut Supreme Court used Arrowood as an opportunity to overrule its 1988 decision that allocated to the insured the burden of disproving prejudice to the insurance company.  The Court had earlier opined that a strict litmus test of delayed notice (without regard to actual prejudice) would likely result in the forfeiture of insurance coverage. Now, post-Arrowood, the burden of proving prejudice from delay is on the insurer.  As a practical matter, it is the insurer that is best able to assess and prove any prejudicial effect of delay on its investigation of a claim or the mounting of a legal defense.  The result should be better-informed trial court decisions on the existence or extent of prejudice to carriers from delayed notice.  Connecticut policyholders are better off as a result as they are more likely to be able to access the insurance coverage for which they have over years paid premiums.

The commercial litigation attorneys in the Westport, Connecticut office of Maya Murphy, P.C. have extensive experience in the negotiation and litigation of all sorts of insurance-related disputes and assist clients from Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Norwalk, Westport, and Fairfield in resolving such issues. Please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100

Couple Injured by Out-of-Control Dump Truck Wins $10 Million

A couple injured in a multi-car wreck caused by an out-of-control dump truck won a jury award of more than $10 million.

Theodus Williams was driving a 1979 Mack dump truck for Valvano Construction Inc. when he lost control of the truck that was loaded with stone. He hit a line of cars on a city street causing a chain reaction.

One of those cars then hit Robert and Holly Ann Kuchwara’s car and sent the couple’s Toyota SUV into a utility pole, fracturing Holly Ann’s vertebrae, shattering her ankle, and leaving her with head trauma.

The couple sued the construction company and its driver and claimed the dump truck was unsafe for driving.

Their lawyer, Joseph Quinn, had evidence of police charges against the company and the driver for 12 violations each. According to those charges, the truck had faulty brakes and steering problems, and Williams was driving with an expired medical certificate.

The jury gave the couple $9.1 million to compensate for their injuries and an extra $1 million to punish the company and driver.

“Obviously we’re thrilled with the verdict after a case in which there was no offer of settlement,” said Quinn. “The jury accepted the finding of the state police that the truck should never have been on the road.”

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to an automobile accident claim or personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

$130,000 Settlement for Personal Injuries From Car Accident

A Naugatuck woman secured a $130,000 settlement stemming from an accident where she was rear-ended on Interstate 91 in Windsor, Connecticut by another motorist.

The plaintiff was a twenty-five-year-old makeup artist and retail saleswoman. As a result of the accident her neck, lower back, and knee were injured, requiring medical treatment. The plaintiff received medical treatment from a chiropractic physician for her cervical spine and lower back. The chiropractic physician assigned the plaintiff a five percent impairment of the cervical spine and a five percent impairment of her lumbar spine pursuant to the 5th Edition of the AMA Guide.  An orthopedic surgeon examined her knee injury who recommended exploratory arthroscopic surgery to repair a suspected meniscus tear.

The plaintiff’s Audi had substantial rear-end crash damage from the accident. The automobile liability policy on the vehicle operated by the defendant had a minimum $20,000.00 policy. The policy was paid in full by the owner’s liability carrier. The defendant operator also carried a $20,000.00 automobile policy on his own private automobile, which was also exhausted

The plaintiff’s own under-insured motorist carrier then paid $90,000.00 of under-insured motorist benefits to the plaintiff after the full limits of automobile liability coverage were exhausted against both liability policies covering the defendant operator and owner.

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

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1.3 million crashes per year caused by calls or texting

Safety First

Distracted driving laws are becoming more and more widespread and for good reason. According to the National Safety Council, 23 percent of car crashes, or 1.3 million per year, are caused by phone calls or texting. Phone use was involved in 3,092 highway deaths, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates.

“No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in a press release last week. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.”

Many states already have laws in place against certain cell phone uses behind the wheel, and more are expected to follow the NTSB recommendation. How can you avoid a ticket for improper cell phone use? Easy. Know your state and local laws, and follow them. If you have to make a call, find a safe place to pull over, or let a passenger handle the phone.

Know Before You Go

In the last five years, laws against distracted driving have proliferated around the country.

  • Nine states as well as Washington, D.C. ban handheld cellphone use while driving.
  • Twenty-six states ban only text messaging while driving.
  • No states have total bans on hands-free calls, although many do have special restrictions for school bus drivers and inexperienced drivers.
  • Thirty states plus D.C. ban phone use outright for inexperienced drivers (definition of inexperienced varies by state.)

Local ordinances may be more restrictive than state laws. Please see the Governors Highway Safety Association site for detailed information about your state.

The Most Expensive Text Message You’ll Ever Send

While in most states distracted driving laws are primary offenses, meaning police can pull you over for phone use alone, officers will often look for people whose driving is clearly affected. “A lot of times what’s going on is erratic operation,” says Boston attorney Jason Chan. “Weaving, crossing lines, blowing stop signs, situations where a person is about to hit another car and stops short.”

Young drivers especially need to be careful because they are singled out in so many laws. “Anybody who is young they’ll typically look at,” Chan explains. “They’ll run the plates to see who it’s registered to. If the car owner is female and the driver looks like a young male, it could be mom’s car or something of that nature.”

Penalties vary greatly by state:

  • In California, fines plus penalties for violating cell phone laws are $76 for first offense, $190 for all subsequent offenses.
  • Massachusetts fines escalate from $100 to $500.
  • Some states dock points off your license, which can lead to more expensive insurance bills and eventual license suspension, while others assess a fine only.

Handsfreeinfo.com has a detailed list of various fines and penalties by state.

How To Fight a Ticket

If you do get pulled over, remain calm. “Be polite as possible—officers do tend to write those things down,” Chan says. “Be careful of the statement you make. Obviously, anything you say can be used against you in court.”

If an officer witnesses a driver manipulating a phone, a defendant in a state banning handheld use may be out of luck. “It’s usually pretty difficult to fight,” says Chan. “A lot of his word against yours.”

However, in states that only ban texting, drivers might argue they were dialing, not sending a text. “It doesn’t look that good in court anyway, looking at the phone to dial,” Chan says. “But it can be a good argument to make.”

Documents from the phone carrier can show if a person was talking on the phone or texting. “We’ve been seeing a lot of people bringing in their cell phone records,” the lawyer says. “They would show if they were actually on the phone.”

Driving Laws by State

For the purposes of the charts, laws are interpreted in the most conservative manner— states that have blanket texting bans that include but don’t necessarily single out younger drivers are considered restricted in the “inexperienced driver” map. Hawaii does not actually have a state law regarding phone use but every county in the state bans distracted driving, which includes handheld use and texting for youth and adults. Please see the Governors Highway Safety Association site for detailed information about your state.

By: Aaron Kase

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to an automobile accident or a personal injury claim and would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

Woman Awarded $444,663 for Injuries after Collision in Intersection

Salemi v. Parker, CV095032487, 2012 WL 4747250 (Conn. Super. Ct. Sept. 6, 2012)

In a lawsuit in Superior Court, the plaintiff was awarded $444,663 in damages stemming from a collision going through an intersection. While the defendant admitted to being at fault for causing the accident, the parties hotly contested the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The traffic accident occurred in Madison on September 30, 2009, at the intersection of Boston Post Road and Mungertown Road.[1]  The defendant, Luke Parker, who had only had his license for a week before the accident, was attempting to turn left at the intersection.  The plaintiff, Ms. Salemi, testified she was driving between twenty-five and thirty-five miles per hour on Boston Post Road when the defendant suddenly pulled out in front of her, giving her no time to react.  The defendant stated that he knew it was going to be a “close call” but decided nevertheless to attempt to turn in front of the plaintiff’s vehicle which had the right of way on the Boston Post Road.[2]

The accident was a head-on collision between the front of the plaintiff’s car and the left side of the defendant’s car.  The impact of the collision was severe driving the plaintiff’s chest and abdomen into the steering wheel of the car.  The testimony clearly demonstrated that the defendant was solely responsible for the accident.  The plaintiff, who had the right of way, was found to be in no way responsible for the collision.[3]

Following the accident, the plaintiff underwent multiple surgeries including hernia surgery, repair of a rupture of her rectus diastasis, and other abdominal surgery.  On the issue of the plaintiff’s damages, the parties disagreed as to whether the September 30, 2009 accident was the proximate cause of her multiple surgeries and the complications which followed.  While the defendant’s medical expert, Dr. Amodeo, opined that the accident was not a cause of the plaintiff’s abdominal problems and related surgeries, the plaintiff’s medical records indicated multiple complaints of abdominal pains in the weeks following the accident.[4]  Dr. Amodeo conceded on cross-examination that a head-on collision, as opposed to a side-impact, was more likely to cause a hernia.

Based on the evidence, the court found that the September 30, 2009 collision with the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries, including the hernia and related surgeries.  The plaintiff proved that her treatments were reasonably necessary and awarded all of the plaintiff’s medical bills in the amount of $114,663.[5]

As to noneconomic damages, the court concluded that as a result of the accident the plaintiff was forced to undergo five invasive medical procedures. Her recovery from the procedures was arduous and difficult requiring daily home assistance and for her to wear drainage bags on her body.  As a result of her severe discomfort, the court further awarded the plaintiff $330,000 in noneconomic damages for a total damage award of $444,663.

 

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

[1] Salemi v. Parker, CV095032487, 2012 WL 4747250 (Conn. Super. Ct. Sept. 6, 2012)

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

Stop and Shop Slip and Fall Recovers $537,787 Against Attorney

Bell v. Law Offices of Howard A. Lawrence, LLC, NNHCV116025442S, 2013 WL 1943849 (Conn. Super. Ct. Apr. 19, 2013)

In a recent Connecticut Superior Court decision, Norma Bell recovered $537,787 in damages stemming from a fall at Stop and Shop Supermarket. The plaintiff’s award was against her former attorney in her personal injury action against Stop and Shop, who had failed to appeal Stop and Shop’s Motion to Dismiss.[1]

On August 25, 2006, Norma Bell, when exiting from the Stop and Shop Supermarket located at 100 Division Street in Ansonia, fell due to the dangerous and defective condition of the parking area next to the store provided for use by its patrons.[2]  Stop and Shop although not the owner of the parking area would have the duty to use reasonable care to maintain the said area in a reasonably safe condition to which its patrons were invited to use.

As a result of her fall, the plaintiff sustained serious and permanent personal injuries including a serious cerebral concussion, frontal sinus dehiscence requiring craniotomy.[3]  Bell retained Howard A. Lawrence to represent her in connection with a claim for monetary compensation.

Bell’s attorney, Lawrence, filed suit against Stop and Shop only.  However, the lease agreement between Stop and Shop and the owner of the parking lot provided the lot owner was responsible for maintenance.  Bell’s attorney failed to include the owner of the parking in the action and after the court granted Stop and Shop’s Motion To Dismiss, Lawrence failed to appeal.

In the subsequent legal malpractice lawsuit against the Law Offices of Howard A. Lawrence, Bell won a judgment of $537,787.41 ($187,781.41 in economic damages and $350,000 for noneconomic damages) representing her damages for the “lost cause” against Stop and Shop.[4]

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or attorney malpractice claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

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[1] Bell v. Law Offices of Howard A. Lawrence, LLC, NNHCV116025442S, 2013 WL 1943849 (Conn. Super. Ct. Apr. 19, 2013)

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

$267,745 Judgment to Woman Hit by Car While on Horseback

In Smith v. Errera, NNHCV126031635S, 2012 WL 5447904 (Conn. Super. Ct. Oct. 12, 2012), a lawsuit before the Connecticut Superior Court, the plaintiff, a 16-year-old student at Amity Regional High School, received a judgment of $267,745 for damages sustained from an accident where the defendant’s vehicle collided with her while she was riding her horse.

On September 16, 2011, the vehicle of the defendant, Calude Errera, collided with the plaintiff, who was riding her horse, “Honey,” on Fairwood Road at its intersection with Deerfield Lane in Bethany, Connecticut. The vehicle operated by the defendant crossed the centerline of the road and struck the plaintiff’s horse, causing the plaintiff to be thrown to the road surface.

The plaintiff, who was a high school student, had plans of becoming an equine veterinarian.  As a result of the collision, she suffered physical injuries to both of her hands, including a fractured wrist, as well as, a head injury causing frequent migraines and damaged vision.  The damages to the plaintiff’s vision made it difficult for her to see the blackboard in her classes, requiring her to wear glasses.  In addition to physical damages, the plaintiff claims emotional trauma as a result of witnessing the fatal injuries to her horse, whom she described as her best friend.

Based on the police report and the parties’ testimony the court found that the defendant was solely liable for causing the accident and no contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff.

The court awarded her $17,745 in past economic damages, the sum of her reported medical bills, and $250,000 in non-economic damages for a total award of $267,745.

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to an automobile accident or personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

Driver Convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter Countersues Boy’s Parents

A driver convicted of vehicular manslaughter has filed a countersuit against the parents of the boy he killed. He claims the boy’s parents are to blame because the boy wasn’t wearing a helmet and was riding his bike in the street when killed. The parents’ civil lawsuit against the driver touched off the driver’s counterclaim.

  • Convicted driver responds to wrongful death lawsuit with own claim
  • Injured party’s fault often at issue as a defense or counterclaim
  • Sovereign or governmental immunity shield’s DMV’s mistake

Parents Seek to Sue CT DMV for Negligence

It’s pretty unusual for someone who wasn’t injured in an accident to sue a victim’s survivors for damages. It would not be unusual for this driver to raise the defense of contributory or comparative negligence to the parents’ lawsuit. It’s doubtful a jury would sympathize with either the defense or the counterclaim in this case.

The parents of the boy have also sued the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. They claim the DMV should have pulled the driver’s license because of his numerous prior traffic convictions, including five arrests and four convictions for drunk driving. The DMV has admitted its mistake.

What stands between the parents and compensation for the loss of their son is not the driver’s countersuit. He’s probably judgment proof anyway. It’s the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The state can’t be sued for personal injury or wrongful death in most circumstances. The parents have asked the state to waive immunity in their case.

By: Arthur Buono

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

Conn. Appellate Court affirms $256,000 automobile injury award

In Cima v. Sciaretta, UWYCV0096001772, 2011 WL 4509917 (Conn. Super. Ct. Sept. 14, 2011) aff’d, 140 Conn. App. 167, 58 A.3d 345 (2013), the Court affirmed a $256,058 damaged award to a young woman who had been injured in an automobile accident.[1]

The personal injury suit was filed in 2009 by Laura Cima against defendants Eric Sciaretta and Nicholas Sciaretta arising out of a 2007 automobile accident in which she was a passenger.  On July 16, 2007, Cima’s vehicle was struck by a vehicle owned by Nicholas Sciaretta, typically operated by his son Eric Sciaretta. At the time of the accident, however, the vehicle was being driven by a friend of Eric Sciaretta’s, Stephen Sorbo.[2]

At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was a college student actively involved in cheerleading and other activities. After the accident, her activities were changed substantially and she underwent years of treatment for the injuries sustained in the accident.

On July 21, 2011, the jury entered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, finding that Stephen Sorbo had failed to stop at a stop sign and broad-[3]sided the vehicle Cima was riding in. At trial defendant, Eric Sciaretta described the impact as significant and on a scale of “one-ten,” described it as a “nine.” The airbags deployed in Cima’s vehicle and her head, arm, knee, and lower back were injured as a result of the impact. At trial, the defendants did not dispute that Sorbo failed to stop at the stop sign or that Cima was injured as a result of the impact. Instead, the defendants disputed the extent to which Cima was injured and whether both Sciarettas were legally responsible in any way for the accident.

In Cook v. Nye, the Appellate Court found that “[a] parent’s retention of title to a car has frequently been sufficient justification for the application of the family car doctrine when the doctrine is otherwise applicable, even if the vehicle has been completely paid for by the child in question and the child has beneficial ownership.”[4] This rule holds true as long as it has been “shown that the driver has received general authority from the owner to use the car for a family purpose, that is, for the pleasure or convenience of the family or a member of it.”[5]

In reaching its verdict the jury answered 17 jury interrogatories, including the first two interrogatories which dealt explicitly with the issue of whether Nicholas Sciaretta gave general authority, without restrictions, to Eric Sciaretta to use the family vehicle for his pleasure and convenience and whether Eric Sciaretta gave permission to operate the family car to Stephen Sorbo, both of which the jury answered affirmatively.[6]

Since the jury found Eric Sciaretta had been given general authority, without restrictions, to drive the family vehicle owned by his father Nicholas Sciaretta and Eric Sciaretta had entrusted the driving of the family car to Stephen Sorbo, Stephen Sorbo’s negligence was imputed to the owner of the vehicle, Nicholas Sciaretta.

The jury found that the accident of July 16, 2007, had proximately caused the injuries claimed by Laura Cima. Consequently, the jury entered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $256,058.56, which verdict included $245,000 in non-economic damages.

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a car accident or personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

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[1] Cima v. Sciaretta, UWYCV0096001772, 2011 WL 4509917 (Conn. Super. Ct. Sept. 14, 2011) aff’d, 140 Conn. App. 167, 58 A.3d 345 (2013)

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Cook v. Nye, 9 Conn.App. 221, 518 A.2d 77 (1986)

[5] Id., at 228.

[6] Cima v. Sciaretta