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Municipal Liability

CASE RESULTS

$200,000.00 Settlement For Injury From Municipal Street Defect

“CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE, AND DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE”

Attorney: Greg Sandler

Location: Virginia Beach Circuit Court

The client was a really nice woman who was vacationing with her family, from Factoryville, PA, in Virginia Beach during the summer, as so many  people do. She, along with many other pedestrians, was walking across Pacific Avenue in Virginia Beach, at the intersection with 19th Street. As she walked behind others, her foot stepped into an uncovered City water valve access. She pitched forward with her foot stuck in the hole, causing injury to her foot, ankle and shin.

After receiving treatment locally, my client and her family returned home, but her injury took a tragic turn.  From the puncture wound on her shin, the client developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, which is now known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. This is a condition where the body’s sympathetic nerve system misfires, making the patient feel intense neurological pain in a limb, and associated symptoms of differing temperatures in the limbs.  The client relayed a constant feeling of burning sensation on her skin in her lower limb, with anything touching her, including her pants, the sheets on her bed, and socks.

The case presented many difficulties. First was the nature of the client’s injury and condition, which is not understood by most physicians. We sought the assistance of a specialist in this disease in New Jersey to provide her with an evaluation and an opinion about its cause. Second was the involvement of the City as the responsible party. Generally municipalities are granted a certain level of sovereign immunity for governmental actions, and we had to overcome that potential defense to a claim for injuries arising from lack of street maintenance. Third was the difficulty overcoming the claim that the client was partially at fault. Premises liability cases in Virginia present difficult burdens for a claimant, and this issue was heavily relied upon by the City.

The case was ultimately resolved after lengthy mediation through the payment to my client of the SETTLEMENT amount of $200,000.00.

Confidential Settlement for Biker Injured By Defective Roadway

“CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE, AND DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE”

Attorney: Greg Sandler

Location: Richmond, VA

Sometimes it’s not the negligence of another driver that causes a crash, but the negligence of those responsible for our safety.  That is the situation in a case I handled for another lawyer in Richmond, who suffered a dramatic injury, while riding his motorcycle.  The client left work on a sunny day August, to take a leisurely ride south of Richmond on his motorcycle.  As he crossed the Shockoe Bottom Bridge on Interstate 64 leading out of Richmond, the steering of his front wheel began to become unsteady, due to the substantial defects in the road surface.  His wheel, being narrower than that on a car, caught in the deep spalling in the bridge surface, lost control and traction, and the bike went down, sending my client skidding on the roadway like a rock on the surface of a lake.

Our investigation revealed that the Department of Transportation had a contract with another company, for substantial sums, to effect repairs and maintenance on the road surfaces, including the bridges, and the battle over the responsibility of the Department and this company was hard fought, with strong denials of any responsibility for my client’s crash or his injuries.  We investigated the company which was hired to perform the mandatory bridge inspections, and found repeated reports of substandard conditions on and under the bridge, and we were prepared to use aerial photographs of the bridge to depict the severe conditions of the surface.  I had taken a videotape of the surface of the bridge from a moving vehicle, to demonstrate how quickly my client would have been confronted with the defects, without the chance to avoid the minefield.

The defense even attempted to use an expert to blame my client’s operation of the bike for his crash, but after vigorous cross-examination by me, during which he admitted that he had NEVER driven over the bridge on a bike, the Richmond Circuit Court judge granted my motion to disqualify the expert entirely.

The injuries my client suffered were substantial, including the loss of a finger, and the long, painful healing process associated with “road rash”, the abrading of skin due to sliding on the asphalt.

After hearings over two days on a multitude of motions, we were able to negotiate a confidential settlement against both the Department and the contracting company, to compensate my  client for his injuries.

Post Script:

Throughout the years of litigation of this case, I had to travel to Richmond for proceedings many times.  Every time I went, I had to travel in a car over the very same bridge,  and even after the case was settled, the defects in the bridge remained.

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