Public Transit Injury – Case Study
The following is a true story from our personal injury case files. Names and specific details about the case have been changed to protect the identities of the parties involved, but the insurance offers and final settlement are real. If you have a public transit injury claim, talk to an attorney at Kane & Silverman. Kane & Silverman provides free legal consultations for injury claims.
Public transportation is usually a fast and cheap way to get to destinations in the city. In larger cities, many of us use public transit in several forms. But, when a passenger gets hurt while riding public transit who is financially responsible? Financial responsibility for an injury depends on the details of the situation. If you are hurt, and it wasn’t your fault, you may be eligible for compensation. Below is a true story of a real injury case handled by the legal team at Kane & Silverman.
Injury Lawsuit Against Public Transit
Injury claims against public transit are difficult. Many times, the injured person files a claim and it is denied. Then, the injured person gives up. But, James didn’t give up and it paid off for him in the end.
Man Injured While Riding Bus
James was traveling home after a long day at work. He worked in construction and had to carry some heavy tools with him. Additionally, James rode public transportation to and from work.
One evening, James got on the bus with his tools and made his way to an empty seat. Before James was seated, the bus driver started driving. But, a late passenger ran after the bus and yelled for the driver to stop and let them on. The bus driver stopped abruptly to let the late passenger on.
This all happened in the space of a few seconds. James didn’t have time to get seated. When the bus suddenly stopped, James was thrown toward the front. With his heavy toolbox in hand, James fell hard. On the way down, he hit a support pole and felt extreme pain in his shoulder. Something was wrong.
James couldn’t move his arm. The bus driver had to stop and call for emergency services. An ambulance came to take James to the hospital. The hospital ran several tests and took X-rays of James’ arm and shoulder. James had a broken clavicle and a concussion. The clavicle was broken in 3 places as a result of his fall on the bus.
Out Of Work After An Injury
James needed both arms to safely do his job. But, his recovery demanded that James not use his arm for a minimum of several weeks. This meant James couldn’t work. He tried to contact the bus company to file a claim, but it was rejected. This is when he decided to contact an injury attorney for help.
James Contacted Several Injury Attorneys
James called several injury attorneys in the area. The attorneys would not take his case. A claim against a government entity, like public transit, has a lot of rules. For some attorneys, this is too much work for a case that will likely be rejected.
Injury Claims Against Public Transit
Injury claims against public transit have a lot of rules in Pennsylvania. There is a six-month time limit to file a claim. There is a specific process to follow and any mistake can disqualify the claim. Additionally, the injured person must show there was significant and/or permanent harm.
Attorneys that turned down James’ case felt there wasn’t enough harm for a successful claim. From a quick glance, it looked like James would miss a few weeks of work but would recover from his injury. For some injury attorneys, this meant James’ injury claim wasn’t worth the cost to represent him.
How James Found Kane & Silverman
James didn’t call us directly. He spoke to several other law firms that turned him down. Finally, one attorney felt bad for James and asked Randall Justice if he might be able to help.
Randall met with James to discuss the incident that caused the injury. James had already tried to file a claim with the bus company, and the claim was denied. In addition, he was working with his doctor but his shoulder wasn’t getting better. It was still early in the case, but James was already facing some serious hardships due to his injury.
Randall wasn’t sure how much he could help James, but he wanted to help James as much as possible. James agreed to let Randall represent him in his claim.
It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better
James was in for a long battle. His injury required surgery, but never fully healed. Because James wasn’t able to use his arm, he wasn’t able to work in construction anymore. James lost his job.
An injury and the loss of income is a huge stress for any family. James’ wife left and gave sole custody to James. He couldn’t care for himself, and he had two small children to take care of. But, he couldn’t work because of his injury. He lost his apartment.
James’ mother lived nearby in a small apartment. She was able to make room for the children, but there wasn’t quite enough room for James. James was essentially homeless. He relied on the kindness of relatives and friends for an occasional place to sleep and shower. But, James didn’t give up. He kept up with his treatment and worked with Randall on his case.
Offer From Insurance
Nearly all injury claims are paid by insurance companies. Randall and his team were spending time going back and forth with the insurance company on James’ injury claim. Our team was trying to negotiate a fair settlement to help James.
When James tried to file the claim on his own, it was denied. After Randall took the case, we took it to arbitration. Arbitration is like a meeting where both parties explain their side to an impartial person. The arbitrator felt James should get $40,000 and the insurance company reluctantly agreed. The insurance company made a formal offer of $40,000 to settle James’ case.
$40,000 is a lot of money. However, the medical expenses for James’ injury were already close to $40,000. This didn’t count the time James had to spend off work or the fact that James was now homeless. It didn’t cover the travel to doctor appointments, or the pain and suffering James endured. This injury had cost James so much and $40,000 wouldn’t even get him back on his feet.
Settle Or Go To Trial
The decision to settle or go to trial is a difficult decision. On one hand, James had a $40,000 offer – which isn’t a small amount of money. If the case went to trial, he might get less – or nothing at all. Randall felt confident in the strength of this case, but the decision was up to James.
James decided to proceed and take the case to trial in front of a jury. He wanted to prove he was right.
Bus Injury Case Goes To Trial
Taking an injury case to trial is a lot of work! Randall and his team prepared the case for trial. In a pretrial discussion with the judge, the judge told both sides he wanted to force the case back into arbitration. But, Randall persisted and the judge had to allow the case to go before a jury.
Randall put together a solid case for James. He was able to point out inconsistencies in defense testimony to prove the case for James. The bus driver made several mistakes that directly caused James’ injuries.
Yet, Randall still had to prove this with evidence. Additionally, it was up to Randall to prove the serious nature of the injuries James sustained. Randall was very prepared, and the trial was going well. Then, the judge pulled the lawyers from both sides into chambers for another meeting.
Another Meeting With The Judge
Near the end of the trial, before testimony was complete the judge called the attorneys for another meeting. This time, the judge strongly urged the defense lawyers to offer an appropriate settlement to James.
The Insurance Company Settlement Offer
Soon after, the insurance company called Randall with an offer to settle the case. Randall met with James to discuss the offer. The offer was $475,000.
The decision to continue the trial or settle was up to James. He had endured so much, because of another driver’s negligence. James wanted a chance at vindication from the jury. $475,000 is a lot of money and is the fair compensation James deserved.
Maximum Value Of This Injury Case
An experienced injury attorney knows the approximate value of an injury claim. In James’ situation, the claim was capped at $500,000.
Because the claim involved a government entity, the law puts a limit on how much money the public transit company would pay. The maximum value of James’ case would be $500,000. Even if a jury awarded more, the judge would have to reduce it because of the law protecting government entities.
James Makes His Decision
It was James’ decision to settle or continue. And, it was a tough decision. In the end, James agreed to settle the case for $475,000. That money changed his life.
What James Did With The Money
The first thing James did with the money was to pay off all his medical debts. Then, of course, our legal fees. James took the remaining money and bought a multi-unit house. He was able to bring his children back to live with him and they all live in one unit. The other units he rents out to cover his living expenses.
Using knowledge of his trade, James started a small business and hired a few employees. He is unable to do the physical labor, but he owns and runs the company.
With the money he received as compensation for his injuries, James was able to build a life that gives him financial stability. He has his children and a stable place to live.
Just imagine how things might have turned out for him if that one lawyer hadn’t talked to Randall about James. Or, if James had given up when the first lawyer told him he didn’t see a valid claim. This was truly a tough battle, but James emerged with possibly the best possible outcome.
We are proud of the outcome in James’ case. He was turned away by several attorneys that thought James didn’t have a case. But, we were able to help him – That feeling is so rewarding!
Kane & Silverman Personal Injury Attorneys
At Kane & Silverman, we help injured people. If you have been injured, talk to an injury lawyer. Call us for a free consultation with an injury attorney.