Kreindler Wins $13M Verdict for Pedestrian Seriously Injured by Negligent Driver
- Kreindler & Kreindler’s Boston office obtained one of the largest personal injury jury verdicts in recent Massachusetts history.
- Our client was in a crosswalk when he was struck by a car leaving him permanently paralyzed from the chest down.
- Police photographs of the scene were successfully used to rebut the defendant’s argument that it was too dark to see a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
- Testimony from the defendant’s accident reconstruction expert was undercut in cross-examination, bringing into doubt the person’s credentials and revealing speed tests were done using the wrong model of car.
The attorneys in Kreindler & Kreindler’s Boston office hit the ground running and, in their first year, obtained one of the largest personal injury jury verdicts in recent Massachusetts history. It was also one of the state’s largest jury verdicts in a single victim motor vehicle case. In a case tried by James Gotz, a jury awarded our client $13 million, plus interest, for the debilitating injuries he received after being run down by the defendant’s vehicle.
At the time he was hit, William Dodge was walking to a train station and was in a pedestrian crosswalk at an intersection governed by a flashing light. He had made it more than halfway across the street when the defendant’s Honda Accord struck him. The impact was so great that Mr. Dodge was lifted onto the hood of the Honda shattering the windshield, crumpling the front roof line and causing ripples in the rear passenger side roof. The Honda came to a stop 98 feet beyond the place of impact.
In the accident, Mr. Dodge sustained a fracture of his cervical spine at C6-C7, which left him permanently paralyzed from the chest down. He also suffered an 8-inch degloving injury to his scalp. As a result, he underwent several operations and almost a year of rehabilitation. His medical expenses totaled more than $700,000.
Success at trial required meticulous preparation of the liability and damages cases.
Success at trial required meticulous preparation of the liability and damages cases. Defendant’s counsel argued their client, Mr. Tezel, was not speeding, and that it was so dark and raining so hard that he could not see Mr. Dodge in the crosswalk. Defense counsel referred to Mr. Dodge as the “invisible pedestrian.” However, photographs taken by the police within an hour of the crash were successfully used to rebut the argument that it was too dark to see a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
The defendant’s accident reconstruction expert testified that Tezel wasn’t speeding, but his credibility was undercut by simple and surgical cross-examination. First, James established that he had fabricated portions of his CV, including the assertion that he had been certified as an “accident reconstructionist” in 1976 when in fact there was no such accreditation at that time. Also, the purported expert based many of his speed calculations on tests conducted using an “exemplar” vehicle which turned out to be different from the defendant’s model Accord (he used a 4-door instead of a 2-door). This simple and subtle difference undermined all of his testimony.
The damages portion of the case was prepared with equal thoroughness. The testimony of an expert life care planner and a forensic economist established health care expenses and lost earnings of between $7 million and $10 million for different scenarios. A “Day in the Life” video was prepared to show the jury the travails Mr. Dodge faced every day of his new post-injury life.
The jury’s verdict appeared to have accepted all of the economic damage calculations presented by the plaintiff. They also added approximately $3 million for Mr. Dodge’s pain and suffering.
The time James spent dissecting the defense expert’s resume proved pivotal in the jury’s rejection of his opinions and their acceptance of our arguments on behalf of our client, proving the old axiom that the three key elements for a successful trial are preparation, preparation and preparation.
Photo Credit: Pedestrian crosswalk, Michael Hicks