On September 24, 2008, our client Marcia, a 65-year-old woman who was employed as a psychologist at a local New York City hospital, was on her way home from work and was heading towards her apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan. She was crossing 71st Street at its intersection with Broadway when she was struck by a car that was heading south on Broadway.
As we all know, there are often three sides to a story. In this instance, we only had one side. We don’t know exactly how the accident occurred. The driver of the vehicle said that he was the first car in line waiting for the light to change for cars to proceed south on Broadway. The defendant driver claimed that when the light turned green, he began to move and Marcia “darted out” into the street, and he did not have a chance to stop before striking her.
Yet the driver’s story didn’t make much sense. For one, Marcia had been living in Manhattan for 38 years, crossing that same street everyday, and had never “darted out” into the street before. Also, there was a witness to the accident who told a different version of events, yet this witness died shortly after the accident took place. Additionally, when the driver told his version of events at a subsequent deposition, there were many inconsistencies throughout his testimony regarding how the accident occurred.
Unfortunately, Marcia never got to tell her side of the story. When the car struck Marcia, her head hit the pavement and she suffered a devastating traumatic brain injury. Marcia’s injury did not manifest itself right away. After the accident, Marcia spent three days in St. Luke’s Hospital where she was treated for her head trauma. As weeks went by after the accident, Marcia began to have headaches, started to forget things, and became unable to go to work and treat her patients.
As the weeks turned into months, Marcia started losing the ability to recall basic facts. She would forget where she lived, what her name was, and the names of her family members. She would wake up to go to work and forget how to get to her office.
Marcia’s family, based in Chicago, became concerned and flew to New York to help Marcia. Marcia started getting various treatments with neuropsychologists and traumatic brain injury specialists, all of whom were stunned by the decline in her memory and cognitive skills.
Eventually, Marcia had to completely leave her psychology practice and was forced to move to Chicago where she entered an assisted living facility near her family. She resides there today and now requires 24 hour assistance with all aspects of her life. She has little memory of her life before this accident took place.
Schulman Blitz, LLP brought a lawsuit on Marcia’s behalf against the driver and owner of the car that struck Marcia.
The insurance company for the car claimed that that their driver was not responsible for Marcia’s accident and would not offer any money to settle the case. In the interim years, the cost of Marcia’s care became tremendous and increasingly burdensome on her family.
Earlier this year, we began preparing for trial and the case was scheduled to go to trial this fall. We were eager to finally get a chance to tell what we believed to be Marcia’s version of events, yet we had many concerns as to the difficulties that the case presented at trial. For example, Marcia had no recollection of the accident, and by this point, she was not able to articulate herself in any meaningful way.
As the trial approached, after extensive and intense negotiations with the car’s insurance company,
Schulman Blitz, LLP was able to procure a settlement for Marcia in the amount of $250,000, which represented the vast majority of the car’s available insurance.
When we at Schulman Blitz, LLP settle a case for our clients, there is always a feeling of gratification when we are able to hand the client their settlement check at the conclusion of a case. In this instance, due to Marcia’s condition, we never had that opportunity, and we sent her check to her brother in Chicago as he is responsible for taking care of Marcia’s legal and financial affairs.
When Marcia’s brother Frank received the settlement check, he sent us a short note. The note replaces the feeling of satisfaction that we were unable to have since we could not hand Marcia her check personally.