The City of San Diego has agreed to a $4.85 million settlement to compensate a man for his catastrophic personal injuries that he suffered while biking in the Del Cerro neighborhood in 2014, the San Diego Union Tribune reports.
Plaintiff Clifford Brown suffered a severe spinal cord injury when the ligaments of his spinal cord were torn. He also lost several of his teeth, and it is believed that he may have suffered a stroke as a result of his biking accident.
According to court documents, Brown was riding his bicycle to a friend’s house when he encountered a raised portion of the sidewalk caused by a tree root that created a seven-inch “launching ramp” that caused him to be thrown a distance of 28 feet. After skidding on the pavement for an additional 10 feet, Brown landed on his head and was found with a small pool of blood before he was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
Brown remained hospitalized for nearly a month. He then spent an additional two months in a skilled nursing facility. At the current time, Brown is still undergoing home health care to assist him with complications he suffered following his spinal cord injury.
The plaintiff originally filed his spinal cord injury lawsuit in 2015 against the City of San Diego as well as the owner of the house adjacent to the sidewalk. It was later determined that the city is responsible for controlling the sidewalk, and the homeowners had no responsibility for its condition or for Brown’s accident.
Initially, San Diego responded that the danger presented by the sidewalk conditions would have been apparent to an individual who was exercising “due care” and stated that the danger itself was “minor, trivial and insignificant.”
Brown stated that the accident leading to his spinal cord injury could’ve been prevented if the city had undertaken corrective measures to eliminate the sidewalk ramp caused by the tree root.
The lawsuit was settled before it was set to go to trial. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, “When government agencies settle litigation before trial, it typically indicates agency officials perceive there is a risk that a jury could end up awarding the plaintiff a larger amount than the settlement amount.”
The settlement amount for Brown’s spinal cord injury case was much larger than other recent settlements that totaled $75,000, $98,000 and $235,000. However, it was significantly less than a $7.6 million settlement awarded by a jury in 2012 to a man who became paralyzed when 60-foot palm tree fell on him during a storm. The plaintiff, in that case, alleged that budget cuts for tree maintenance and inspection affected proper service of the tree.
San Diego City officials will end up paying approximately $3 million of the settlement while the other $1.85 million is anticipated to be paid by the city’s insurance policy. The insurance policy will not cover the entire cost or any more than the $1.85 million because the proposed settlement amount exceeds San Diego’s “self-insured retention and reimbursable expenses,” the newspaper reports.
The total settlement amount in Brown’s spinal cord injury case was determined by estimating the costs of past, present and future medical bills and took into account the likelihood that Brown will possibly be able to work in the future.
If you were injured in an accident and suffered a serious injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher for a FREE case evaluation.