It’s easy to assume that a lawsuit filed against a contractor has been pursued by a plaintiff who was hurt on the job. However, in many cases, members of the public become victims when proper precautions haven’t been taken on the project the contractor has been hired to oversee.
Every New Yorker knows how construction can bring swift moving traffic to a sudden and complete halt. While many accidents in construction zones are caused by drivers who are either speeding or distracted, the contractors in charge of these areas are still responsible for making sure that proper warnings are placed so that oncoming traffic is aware of the potential slow down. In addition to this, the structure being worked, such as a bridge, must also meet certain safety standards. When these standards aren’t met, an accident can become much worse.
In one case, a woman’s life was forever changed due to an inadequate guardrail.
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The driver, in this case, was just 24-years-old at the time of her accident. She was in the process of driving across a bridge when the cars in front of her suddenly came to a full stop. She was unable to stop and so in order to avoid hitting another vehicle, she swerved. Her car went across several lanes and then struck the railing along the side of the bridge.
The railing gave way upon impact and instead of stopping the automobile, the vehicle went through the railing and over the side of the bridge. Both the driver and the car fell 40-feet into the river below. Although she survived the accident, she was trapped under the water for 30 minutes while her car filled up with water. She was without oxygen for some time before rescuers were able to reach her.
Due to the injuries she sustained from the crash and the lack of oxygen, she was in a coma for eight months and doctors have diagnosed her with brain damage. In addition to this, she is a now tetraplegic and requires constant care.
The victim and her husband filed a lawsuit against the contractor, the subcontractor, and the city, claiming that they were negligent because they failed to implement proper lane closures and failed to install a guardrail that would have prevented her vehicle from going over the bridge.
The defendants argued that it was the driver’s fault for failing to keep a proper lookout.
All three defendants proposed settlement agreements that were accepted by the plaintiff, for $1 million, $7 million, and $12 million.
Although most plaintiffs imagine that in order to get what they need a trip to the courtroom will be in order, the fact is that the majority of all case settle out of court.
If the defendant offers a reasonable settlement, the plaintiff can get what they need in a timely manner and both parties are saved time and money. Once an agreement has been reached, the plaintiff typically receives their payment within 30 days.
In many personal injury cases where the plaintiff has sustained a spinal cord injury, the complaint has been filed because the victim needs compensation in order to pay for their past medical bills and the future ones.
At the very least, patients with spinal cord injuries will require medications, x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, and possibly even surgery. While some patients are able to regain normal function, many are not and require medical equipment such as wheelchairs, physical therapy, and long-term care aides.
Average costs of care for the first year after an accident range from $347,000 to $769,000 and for every year after that, the average is around $42,000 – $184,000. That doesn’t include the “hidden” expenses of travel. It also doesn’t take into account that most patients are unable to return to work.
With losses like these, as well as an overall loss of enjoyment in life, it’s hardly surprising that many choose to file a lawsuit against the negligent party.