Following three days of trial, Michael F. Becker and David W. Skall of The Becker Law Firm obtained a $4 million settlement for the family of a 69-year-old woman who was tragically killed by a city bus. The woman had been run down from behind while walking in a crosswalk on Public Square on her way to work in Cleveland.
Essentially a lifelong, single mother, the woman is survived by her two adult children, a son and daughter she raised by herself, and three young granddaughters.
Though wrongful death cases are among the most emotionally turbulent trial matters we handle, we are thankful to have helped the family secure the needed justice and compensation they deserved – and to have held the bus company liable for its failures.
About the Case
While investigating the case, Attorneys Becker and Skall recovered videotape from the bus which showed its driver failed to stop at a stop sign before turning left into an intersection. It was in that intersection, in the adjacent crosswalk, where the pedestrian was struck from behind by the bus and thrown backward to the ground, where her head hit the pavement near the crosswalk’s end.
It was additionally discovered by The Becker Law Firm’s legal team that, although critically injured with multiple skull and rib fractures, the woman had been conscious at the accident scene. She was heard by witnesses repeatedly telling the driver to tell her family that she loved them. An emergency room physician who treated the woman later that morning testified she heard her repeating the Rosary prayer.
She suffered multiple fractures and catastrophic brain damage, and ultimately died 20 days later after her children were forced to make an unimaginably difficult decision to withdraw their mother’s life support.
The Lawsuit, Trial Evidence & Settlement
The Becker Law Firm ultimately filed a lawsuit to recover damages incurred by the woman and her family, including:
- The victim’s conscious terror, pain and suffering, and mental anguish following the collision; and
- The grief, mental anguish, and loss of relationship suffered by the woman’s children and grandchildren.
Attorneys Becker and Skall were additionally able, in part, to successfully illustrate the extraordinary nature of the family’s suffering via the use of experts in death-related grieving, who testified in court that the adult children both developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their mother’s sudden, violent, and tragic passing.
In the end, the bus company was ultimately forced to admit its operator was negligent, that the company was responsible for the woman’s death, and that the victim was not at fault in any way for contributing to or causing the accident. The initial trial presentation of evidence and testimony came shortly after, further compelling the company to finally resolve the lawsuit via settlement as opposed to allowing the jury to decide the award.
A Sense of Closure, A Reason for Accountability
Cases such as these are immensely difficult matters – both in terms of the emotional repercussions untimely death has on families, and the legal complexities of litigating high-stakes, emotionally-charged claims against public entities:
- Different Rules & Procedures – City buses, such as the RTA Rapid Transit, are owned and operated by the government (in the case of RTA, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA)). As public entities, claims against city buses, trains, and other transit systems funded by municipalities or the state are not subject to the same civil rules and procedures as those governing claims against private carriers or individuals.
- Barriers to Justice – In addition to different applicable laws, claims against public entities can create additional barriers with which victims must contend in their fight for fair compensation, including limited liability (in certain cases), and a shorter statute of limitations.
As difficult as they may be, wrongful death claims and lawsuits against public entities are critical to providing families with some semblance of justice and closure, and, though there may never truly be a sum which rectifies such a profound loss, fair compensation for the suffering and damages victims incurred. What’s more, they offer an opportunity to hold defendants accountable for negligent and wrongful acts – a powerful tool for deterring similar carelessness and tragedies in the future.The Becker Law Firm has secured many positive results in cases involving profound and permanent losses – including cases of wrongful death and serious injuries arising from car crashes , commercial vehicle accidents , and medical malpractice. If you have questions about a potential case, contact us for a free consultation with an attorney.