On June 15, 2006, at about 2:30 p.m., Cornelius James was walking on the sidewalk at West 66th Street between West End and Amsterdam Avenues in Manhattan. Two cars collided and one car mounted the sidewalk and struck the pedestrian.
Mr. James, a 31 year old attendant at a blood bank, was thrown eight feet into the air, bounced off the car’s hood and landed on the ground. He was taken by ambulance to the local emergency room where he complained of pain in his neck and back, was given anti-inflammatory medication and released after eight hours.
Four days later, Mr. James followed up with a physiatrist (a specialist in the field of trauma and rehabilitation medicine) who diagnosed radicular nerve pain, 50% reduced spinal range of motion and reduced muscle power.
MRI tests a month later disclosed significant injuries to 12 spinal discs – herniations at T1-T5, bulges at C3-C7 and bulges at L1-L5.
In the ensuing Bronx County lawsuit, both drivers were found to be at fault and Mr. James was awarded pain and sufferng damages in the sum of $800,000 ($300,000 past – 3 years, $500,000 future – 30 years). The verdict has now been affirmed in James v. Farhood (1st Dept. 2012).
The court’s decision briefly mentions the injuries involved; here are the injury details:
- six months completely disabled from work (job involved heavy lifting)
- physical therapy three times a week for six months
- three epidural steroid injections at L4-L5
- lumbar and cervical radiculopathy
- continuing inability to return to organized softball or basketball and limited ability to play with his young children
- continuing pain requiring daily medication
While Mr. James returned to his job after six months, it was on light duty only and his injuries resulted in a job change. His treating doctor, Ali E. Guy, M.D., testified that the injuries are permanent and will require extensive medical treatment as his condition worsens over the years.
- In 2001, plaintiff was injured in another car accident that led to a few months of treatment for neck and back pain; however, he missed no time from work following that accident which he and his doctor testified was insignificant (even though the doctor had not been apprised of the prior injury before testifying in court).
- Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $250,000 for past damages and $400,000 for future damages; instead, the verdict (and the amount sustained on appeal over defendants’ claim of excessiveness) was $150,000 more than requested.
- Dr. Guy stated that "neurosurgical intervention" would result if continuing medical treatment fails and plaintiff’s condition continues to get worse. Defense doctors opined that plaintiff needs no more treatment.
- There was a second pedestrian struck by the car that hit Mr. James. Anwar Mian, 60 years old, also sued and he was awarded $500,000 for his pain and suffering damages described and affirmed in the court decision