Partner Allan M. Siegel and Associate Matthew Tievsky obtained a $780,000 verdict against Metro on Friday. Our client was driving on Georgia Avenue when his car was struck in the rear by a Metrobus. Our client had made a lane change in front of the Metrobus and was proceeding through a green light when he stopped before entering the intersection because he thought he heard a siren. The metrobus had a drivecam which recorded the incident. A cursory view of the drivecam made it appear that our client's break lights were not working and that he did not use his blinker when he changed lanes. However, the picture on the drivecam was distorted. You could also not hear the siren in the drivecam video.
Metro claimed that that their driver was not negligent and/or that our client caused the crash because he cut the bus off without using his blinker and then suddenly stopped on the road at a green light, for no reason. Metro called an expert accident reconstructionist to say that based on these facts there was not sufficient perception reaction time for the bus driver to stop. He also testified that video showed that our client's brake lights were not working. There were frames of the video where it looked like the Plaintiff's right brake light may have lit up. However, the left brake light, and the brake light in the rear window, never appeared to light up. Metro's expert testified that the right brake light would not have come on alone, and that what the jury was seeing on the video was simply the reflectors reflecting the sun.
Mr. Siegel and Mr. Tievsky were able to enter into evidence Metro's Standard Operating Procedures which established that the bus driver had been taught to keep a distance of 120 feet to 150 feet between the bus and any car in front of the bus. When our client changed lanes there was only 59 feet. However, the bus driver, instead of braking at that point, to maintain a safe distance, continued to accelerate. The bus driver denied this and claimed that he was covering his brake, and slowing down after he saw the Plaintiff come over. However, Metro's accident reconstructionist contradicted the bus driver's statement, and testified that the bus driver accelerated until 1.3 seconds before the crash.
The jury rejected Metro's expert's theories and found the bus driver solely negligent for the collision. Our client suffered a herniated disk in his low back. His orthopedic surgeon testified that this was a permanent injury, and he would continue to have intermittent pain and problems throughout his life. He was 36 years old when the collision occurred. Our client had incurred $13,603.55 in past medical bills and $4,416 in lost wages. The jury verdict included all of his medical bills and lost wages, and $765,625 for past and future pain and suffering.