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The Importance of Experience in Pedestrian Accidents Involving Children

Offered by Jacoby & Meyers

The right law firm can fight for accountability and full compensation

Any accident involving a pedestrian has the potential to be life-altering or even fatal. When the victim is a child, though, the consequences can be particularly severe.

A recent pedestrian injury case in California handled by Jacoby & Meyers highlights the importance of having the right legal representation in these situations. An attorney with the experience and resources needed to exhaust all possible legal options can make a significant difference, both for the victim and their family and for the broader cause of justice and safety in the community.

Holding the at-fault driver and their employer accountable

The case in question involved a seven-year-old girl who, accompanied by her older brother, was walking to their elementary school in San Bernardino, CA. Just a block and a half from the school, a car appeared and struck the girl as she was crossing the street in a designated marked school crosswalk. This devastating pedestrian vs. car collision caused a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) that left the little girl initially in a coma, and her brother tragically witnessed her being hit and the injuries that followed.

The defendant driver argued that she didn’t see the girl, asserting that she jumped out in front of the car. This is a common defense in cases involving young pedestrians. However, the plaintiff’s attorney, Laura Sedrish, Partner at Jacoby & Meyers, successfully argued that the driver simply wasn't paying attention and should have seen the little girl in the crosswalk.

The plaintiff’s attorney also successfully argued that the driver’s employer was liable for their employee’s negligence. Ordinarily, the “going and coming rule” in California would have meant the employer was not responsible if the employer was commuting to work. However, even despite the defendant driver not even thinking she was “working” at the time of the crash, Sedrish managed to prove that this situation was an exception to the rule and held the employer responsible for their employee’s negligent driving. This was a significant victory because it gave the plaintiff access to more compensation via the employer’s insurance and assets, ultimately leading to over a $5 million settlement with the employer and the defendant driver.

Part of the settlement was also compensation for the victim’s brother due to the legal concept of “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” The brother experienced significant trauma due to witnessing his sister’s horrifying accident. 

Holding the City accountable

The case then focused on the City of San Bernardino, alleging that its crosswalk was poorly maintained with inadequate signage and striping. Described as "dilapidated" and "fading," the crosswalk's lines were faded, and the advanced warning signs were too small. As a designated “school crossing,” it lacked adequate safety measures for young school children to cross safely. This poorly maintained “uncontrolled crosswalk,” with a history of other incidents about which the City should have known, put the young girl in a vulnerable position, ultimately leading to the accident. Sedrish also alleged that the City of San Bernardino Unified School District was also partially responsible for the safety of the crosswalk.

The City’s defense attorneys argued that the City had absolute immunity with no legal obligation to provide additional safety measures. However, in the end, the City of San Bernardino agreed to pay an additional $3 million due to Sedrish’s aggressive stance, the history of the crosswalk, and the severity of the injuries, bringing the total settlement to over $8 million, which also includes a contribution made by the City of San Bernardino School District.

The case highlights the importance of road safety, especially in areas frequented by children, and the shared responsibility among the drivers, employers, and governments to keep children and our roads safe. While this particular case involved liability on the part of a private employer and a municipal government, similar matters might involve public employers or private businesses that are responsible for the safety of their property. The purpose of the civil justice system is not only to help victims pursue fair compensation for their injuries but also to bring safety issues to light and pursue accountability to make our communities safer, especially for children and other vulnerable people.

If you’ve been injured, contact an attorney who will get to the bottom of what happened

While nothing can undo a severe, life-altering injury such as a TBI, this case also highlights the importance of finding a pedestrian accident attorney who will put in the effort to get to the bottom of what happened, identify all possible liable parties, and pursue all legal options to get full and fair compensation for the victim and the victim’s family. Cases involving government liability are particularly difficult to win, but not impossible for the right lawyer. An attorney with experience, legal knowledge, and a proven track record in high-stakes pedestrian accident litigation can put victims and their families in the best position to win.

If you or your child have been injured in a pedestrian accident or collision, having the right lawyer can make all the difference. Contact an experienced, verified injury attorney in your area today.

Pedestrian Accidents
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