A Burlington County jury recently returned a verdict in favor of my client, finding that the Florence Township Board of Education and its school bus driver were partially responsible for an incident that occurred at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Railroad Avenue in Florence Township, New Jersey. Back on February 23, 2009, my client Swaran Singh had brought his bicycle to a stop at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Railroad Avenue. At the same time, Sherrie Berry, the Florence Township Board of Education bus driver, was driving her school bus southbound on Delaware Avenue. She made a right turn onto Railroad Avenue and kept going, unaware that the right rear tire of her school bus had run over the left foot of my client.
According to the police investigation, the Florence Township Police investigating police officers determined that Mr. Singh had been riding his bike on the sidewalk and that he lost control of his bicycle, rolled into the street and was run over by the back tire of the school bus.
Before going to trial, I retained an accident reconstruction expert as well as an orthopedic surgeon to look at the physical facts and determine, based on science and medicine, whether the police version was accurate. Both my accident reconstruction expert and orthopedic surgeon opined that the police version was in error. My accident reconstruction expert determined that at the time of the incident, Mr. Singh was stopped on his bike, straddling his bike with his left foot in the crosswalk. He determined that my client was injured when the right rear tire of the school bus ran over my client’s planted foot. My orthopedic expert also opined that based on the nature of the injuries, the accident reconstruction expert’s opinion was accurate.
There was no question that my client was partially responsible. However, in New Jersey, an injured individual can still recover damages if the defendant was at least 50% at fault. It was our position that the defendant school bus driver was negligent in failing to make observations as she traveled south bound on Delaware Avenue and as she made her right turn onto Railroad Avenue.
The jury agreed that the plaintiff and the defendant school bus driver were both equally at fault. As a result, plaintiff was entitled to recover half of his damages.