An 11-year-old boy who suffered severe injuries – including serious and permanent brain damage – resulting from his being struck by a vehicle while playing on his skateboard has been awarded $22.7 million by a jury in Broward Circuit Court. The original award was closer to $75 million, but after finding the boy shared 70 percent of the fault for his injuries, the jury reduced the overall award accordingly.

skateboard-225x300Still, the family in the case of Mosley v. Lloyd could ultimately end up collecting treble the driver’s insurance policy limits if successful in a pending bad faith claim, asserting the insurer exercised bad faith in failing to settle a legitimate claim fairly and promptly.

Florida is No. 1 in the country when it comes to danger for pedestrians, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. A February 2013 report indicates Florida accounts for six percent of the U.S. population and yet 11 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in the country. Pedestrian accidents in 2010 resulted in 500 deaths and 2,075 nonfatal hospitalizations, as well as nearly 8,000 emergency room visits.

Fort Myers injury lawyers recognize even in cases where pedestrian may share some percentage of fault, it is not a bar to pursuing a claim in Florida. Whereas some states will prohibit the claim entirely if a plaintiff is comparatively negligent, others will only allow damage awards in cases where comparative fault is measured at less than 50 percent.

The fact that Florida allows claims to be brought even when there is up to 99 percent fault is of great advantage to injured plaintiffs, particularly such as those in a case like this who will require suffer lifelong disabilities necessitating constant care.

According to court records, the crash in question occurred in Fort Lauderdale, as a child was playing both on the sidewalk and in the street near a popular neighborhood takeout restaurant. Several onlookers witnessed the speeding vehicle, and saw the impact – the child was thrown approximately 100 feet. According to plaintiff testimony, impact of the crash ruptured the child’s aorta, which caused blood supply to his brain to be cut off. This resulted in brain damage that was both severe and permanent. Additionally, his kidneys suffered severe and permanent damage too, and he requires constant monitoring.

Although witnesses reported the driver, 67, was traveling about 50 mph in a 35-mph zone, this was not allowed to be entered as evidence based on the hearsay rule. A civil engineering professor and accident reconstructionist testifying for plaintiff said despite defendant traveling faster than 35 mph, the crash could have been prevented had he acted reasonably to the emergency situation.

According to witnesses in the car – defendant’s girlfriend and her father – the driver was hard of hearing. He had to read lips to understand conversations, and he was reportedly speaking to his girlfriend’s father shortly before impact. The two passengers cried out to the driver when they saw the boy in the street, but there is no indication the driver braked or took any other evasive action prior to impact.

The driver’s attorney asserted he was only driving 15 mph. The driver himself testified he was driving 1 mph. Plaintiff attorneys targeted the driver’s credibility by noting he served nearly three decades in prison for homicide, and had not driven much in the years since.

Numerous medical specialists testified regarding the child’s extensive injuries. His kidney damage requires that his blood pressure be constantly monitored. He has difficulty swallowing food and must communicate using special equipment. He also has behavioral issues, and is unlikely to graduate high school. He must walk with an aid and often uses a wheelchair. He will require constant care the rest of his life.

The jury deliberated just 1.5 days before finding defendant negligent, and awarding plaintiff little more than half of the $180 million requested – reduced by his percentage of comparative fault for being in the roadway.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

Attorney Wins $22.7M Verdict for Boy Hit by Car, Dec. 10, 2014, By Adolfo Pesquera, Daily Business Review

More Blog Entries:

Elliot v. GEICO – Underinsured Motorist Coverage Set-Offs, Nov. 26, 2014, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog