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Broward County, FL

The 11-year-old minor plaintiff was playing with a scooter near his home. He attempted to cross the street near a crowd of people across from a park, when he was struck by the defendant’s vehicle in the second travel lane. The plaintiff asserted that the defendant driver was negligent in causing the impact, resulting in a permanent catastrophic brain injury to the boy. The defendant testified he was going 1 mph at impact, and argued that he could not avoid the collision after the child darted in front of his automobile.

The accident occurred on November 17, ________, in the ________ block of Sistrunk Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The defense stipulated that the boy’s point of rest was ________ feet from where he crossed the street near a crowd of people who were standing in front of a restaurant. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was speeding, and failed to pay attention to the child playing in the area.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant driver, who had a hearing impairment and read lips when he was listening, was talking to a passenger in the back seat of his vehicle, rather than watching the road. Testimony indicated that the two passengers in the defendant’s vehicle saw the minor plaintiff some seven seconds before impact, and tried to warn the driver of his presence. The plaintiff argued that the defendant knew that the boy might come into the roadway before he started to cross the street, and that the defendant had changed lanes and hit the boy after he cleared the lane, in which the defendant’s SUV had initially been driving.

The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert opined that the defendant driver was traveling in excess of the 35 mph posted speed limit. This expert also testified that the defendant had ample opportunity to avoid striking the youngster. The plaintiff contended that there was no indication that the defendant made any attempt to brake or stop before the impact, and also argued that the hood of the defendant’s vehicle had paint damage consistent with hitting the minor plaintiff’s scooter, as it was being carried by the boy.

The minor plaintiff was diagnosed with a ruptured aorta as a result of the collision. His doctors testified that the rupture cut off the blood supply to the brain, resulting in a permanent and severe brain injury. In addition, the impact caused permanent kidney damage which requires careful monitoring and treatment, according to evidence offered.

The boy has been left with only limited verbal language. He requires assistance to walk short distances, is aware of his surroundings, and recognizes people. The minor plaintiff communicates with facial expressions and a DynaVox computerized communication device. The plaintiff’s continuation of care expert testified that the minor plaintiff will require 24-hour care for the remainder of his life.

The defendant’s accident reconstruction expert testified that before the collision, the defendant was traveling below the 35 mph speed limit. This expert also opined that the defendant could do nothing to avoid the collision because the minor plaintiff suddenly darted in front of his vehicle.

The defense introduced testimony regarding the minor plaintiff’s school records and deficiencies before the date of the accident to controvert the plaintiff’s wage loss estimate.The jury found the defendant driver 70% negligent and the minor plaintiff 30% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages, reduced to a net award of $________. The award included past medical expenses of $________; future economic damages of $________; lost earning ability of $________; past pain and suffering of $________, and future pain and suffering of ________. Post-trial motions are currently pending. The plaintiff claims entitlement to attorney fees and costs based on a proposal for settlement. A bad faith insurance claim is pending and was removed to federal court by the defendant’s insurance carrier, which was also added to the judgment. The plaintiff maintains that the insurer failed to have its insured provide a completed financial affidavitj which was a condition of the settlement demand.

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