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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Man injured when he was struck by off-duty cop — $600,000 settlement

Man injured when he was struck by off-duty cop — $600,000 settlement

Type of action: Personal injury

Injuries alleged: Four non-displaced rib fractures; kidney laceration grade 3; multiple cervical Atlas fractures of the neck, fracture of the C1 anterior arch of the base of head neck; glass in the eye, severe elbow laceration; concussion caused by blunt force trauma

Tried before: Mediation

Date resolved: 12/02/2020

Special damages: $75,200 in medical bills; highly contested lost wage loss for product demise from plaintiff’s nursery

Verdict or settlement: Settlement

Amount: $600,000

Attorney(s) for plaintiff (and city): Adam H. Lotkin, Norfolk

Plaintiff’s experts: Treating hospital provider

Description of Case: Plaintiff, a 73-year-old rural Virginia native, was traveling by his private car to the local convenience store on a local thoroughfare near his neighborhood on a Sunday night, to get ginger ale for his granddaughter, who had a stomach ache. Before the collision, plaintiff was signaling to make left turn with his left turn signal as he was approaching the convenience store. The next thing he remembered, he woke up to medical professionals from the trauma division treating him at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Plaintiff’s vehicle was crushed by an off-duty/non-uniformed city police officer, who was driving a marked police car at the time of the collision.

The sworn police officer (said evening of event and during testimony) never saw plaintiff’s car making his slow, signaled left-hand turn into the parking lot. It was nighttime, yet the area was well-lit due to sufficient ambient overhead street lights and vehicle headlights. The area of the crash was a straight flat street.

Defendants vehemently denied liability, blaming plaintiff for failure to yield to the oncoming police officer’s car. The defendants failed to investigate their own officer in any meaningful manner nor secure all evidence.

The police crash report noted the defendant off-duty officer was driving about 45 mph in a residential 25 mph zone. He was not charged with any traffic infraction.

Defendant city officers charged the plaintiff with violating the no-seatbelt law.

Counsel for the plaintiff secured the surveillance video from the gas station convenient store within a week of the collision. Police investigators did not obtain the video despite admitting to viewing it on the night of the collision. The video was evidence of a high speed, no braking T-bone style collision that demolished the plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff was able to obtain the ECM “black box” data from the police cruiser consistent with the speeds and no brakes being applied before the collision.

Defendant officer admitted at his deposition he was looking down at his police radio at the time before and at the collision moments, while not on duty.

Depositions of nearly half a dozen investigating colleagues of the defendant made the case even more damning. Body cam footage of each officer at the scene was never produced or even requested due to various reasons in discovery until a motion was filed.

Plaintiff has lifelong neck and back pain that will not likely improve, yet he is not a candidate for any surgical repair. Plaintiff’s nursery business was decimated due to his inability to work and care for his specialty plants. The stress of an unknown trial date due to COVID-19 and a viable, yet weak affirmative defense of contributory negligence as well as plaintiff’s advanced age allowed the case to settle.