Family of Teen Killed in Car Crash Awarded $90 Million

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report of a significant verdict recently decided for the family of a 13-year-old girl who was killed by a car while crossing the street to get to her school bus stop. The jury ordered Prince George Public Schools to pay $90 million for its negligence.

More than four years ago, on the morning of September 1, 2009, the teen was crossing a street in suburban Maryland to get to her bus stop. As her classmates watched, a Lincoln Continental struck the girl, a minivan, and a 17-year-old boy. She was a freshman at Crossland High School, and died at a hospital two weeks later from catastrophic brain injuries.

Her family sued the Prince George Public School District for negligence, saying it had a responsibility to provide safe transportation for its students. The district’s policy was to pick up the teen on the side of the street on which she lived. The bus, however, never did this, telling her she had to cross the street to be picked up with the rest of the students.

She was killed crossing that street, and her family wanted someone to be held responsible for her death. She would have graduated this year. The award is now subject to the judge’s final decision, and some are speculating that a limit around $100,000 will be applied, because the defendant is a school system.

Just a few months ago, in February 2013, a similar accident occurred in New York City, this time involving a six-year-old boy. He and his older brother were on their way to school in East Harlem when he was hit by a white tractor-trailer. It was 8 a.m., and there was supposed to be a crossing guard guiding the children across the busy First Avenue. This morning, for one reason or another, the crossing guard was not there.

The first grader was killed just a block away from school, in a crash that residents inside nearby apartments could hear. The absent crossing guard was suspended without pay for in-attendance without authorization. A nearby gas station employee heard the impact and said he saw a Good Samaritan carrying the boy, who was motionless and bleeding, after the crash.

The tractor-trailer, owned by McLane Foodservice Distribution, at first did not realize it hit the boy, and continued driving for two blocks before being told to stop. Police issued the driver two citations: for failing to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk and for failing to use due care in operating a vehicle. He was not charged with any criminal action, although the investigation is ongoing.

Some residents of the intersection, at East 117th Street and First Avenue, said that the presence of large delivery trucks, such as the one that killed the first grader, has been a source of conflict in recent months. One resident said that the situation had slightly improved but that tractor-trailers were still going down the neighborhood streets as often as every half hour. The trucks come and go from a nearby shopping center, usually at night when stock is delivered.

School crossing guards are part-time employees of the New York Police Department. They are permitted to leave their posts for bathroom breaks and other circumstances. It was not clear why the guard responsible for this station, where she has worked since 2003, was absent on the day of the crash. She lives half a block away from the intersection, and ran over in the minutes after the crash, claiming she had gone home for a bathroom break.

New York City is notorious for allowing motorists to get away with murder. The city habitually fails to prosecute, and even investigate, most drivers involved in pedestrian and cyclist deaths. The mother of a 21-year-old girl killed by a negligent dump truck is now suing the city for not charging or ticketing the driver. The cause made its way to City Council, which is now looking to expand the investigations unit and reconsider certain rules.

Car accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight these stories to heighten awareness for parents and children, who cross streets twice a day to get to and from school. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you may be entitled to significant compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.

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