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Settlement Secured for Client Seriously Injured in a Shopping Center Parking Lot Accident

Our client was driving through a four-way intersection in a shopping center parking lot when he was hit by a pickup truck near his driver's side door in Portsmouth, VA.  The lanes of travel entering the intersection from our client’s right and left were controlled by STOP signs. The pickup truck did not yield the right-of-way to our client, who was situated to the pickup driver’ s right as one approaches the particular intersection. Our client suffered significant injuries to his thumbs in the wreck.  He had surgeries on one thumb and was unable to return to his job in a local fast-food restaurant due to his injuries. 
 
We were unable to settle the case, so we filed a Virginia Circuit Court lawsuit on behalf of our client.  The Police Crash Report and photos of the scene indicated the STOP sign facing the defendant driver as he approached the intersection was missing at the time of the wreck. During the course of our lawsuit we were provided body cam video from the police officers who responded to the collision.  The video contained conversations between the officers concerning the absence of a STOP sign facing the defendant at the intersection.  According to those conversations, the STOP sign had been missing for a couple of months and several other collisions had occurred at the intersection lacking the stop sign.
 
The additional information regarding the missing STOP sign and prior collisions led to us adding a claim against the shopping center owner to our lawsuit.  A deposition of a representative of the shopping center owner revealed that it relied upon a property management company to conduct safety inspections of the premises and recommend items to address to keep the property safe.  We served a subpoena upon the property management company to get the records of safety inspections/recommendations the company made to the shopping center owner. No records of any inspections or recommendations were provided by the management company. The absence of these records indicated inspections of the property were lacking which served as a basis for our claim the shopping center was negligently maintained.
 
 
The case moved forward on a negligence claim against the defendant driver for his operation of his vehicle and against the shopping center owner for failing to exercise reasonable care in addressing safety hazards at the shopping center. The parties engaged in a mediation session with a retired Magistrate Judge in an effort to settle the case prior to trial.  The case did not settle during the mediation however, we were able to successfully settle the case a couple of days later with the mediator’s help.  
 

Key Legal Strategies

 
The case against the responsible driver was pretty straightforward. Regardless of the missing STOP sign, he failed to yield the right of way to our driver. He did testify at deposition that had a STOP sign been present at the intersection, it probably would have helped him avoid the wreck.
 
Our client suffered serious, career ending injuries in the wreck. The addition of the shopping center owner as a co-defendant to the case helped in providing an additional source of recovery for our client’s significant losses. The police body cam video helped in establishing the importance of the missing STOP sign to the safety of people visiting the shopping center.
 

Outcome

 
Confidential settlement
 

Lawyer Corner - Randy Appleton Sits Down to Discuss this Shopping Center Parking Lot Injury Case

Q:        Randy, I understand your client was injured while in a shopping center parking lot. Is that accurate?

A:        Yes. He was driving through the shopping center to get a haircut and was hit at an intersection. 

Q:        What city did this happen in?

A:        Portsmouth, Virginia.

Q:        Is it accurate to state that there were not only issues about the extent of his injuries but issues about whether the other driver was responsible for striking his car? 

A:        Correct. The accident occurred at a 4-way intersection.  There was supposed to be stop signs on the two lanes that were to my client's left and right as he entered the lane that travelled to his left. However, it turned out that lane was missing a stop sign.

Q:        Is it true that the driver that's to the right of the other driver at an intersection would have the right away if there's not a stop light or a stop sign?

A:        Yes. The negligence and liability of the driver who hit our client was pretty clear.  In fact, the negligent motorist testified at a deposition that he was responsible for the accident. 

Q:        So, in many personal injury cases, there are issues related to the extent of a client's injuries and whether there's enough insurance.  What kind of injuries did your client have?

A:        My client suffered two broken thumbs.  One of the thumbs had to be surgically repaired and the damages were pretty significant because he also was not able to return to his job at a fast food restaurant.

Q:        Did he get surgery on either one of his hands?

A:        Yes.

Q:        It looks like, in the aftermath of the accident, police officers who arrived at the scene had video cameras either mounted to their patrol cars or on their vests.  Did you do research and learn that there was camera footage?

A:        Yes. We found out there was body-cam footage that could be retrieved through a subpoena duces tecum and the, the police department produced the video in response to those subpoenas.  

Q:        I understand that you looked through all those films and you found some very important information.  Can you explain that please?

A:        Yeah, it was pretty interesting.  One of the police officerswas talking at the scene about how long the stop sign had been missing and how many wrecks had occurred at that intersection. That immediately created the basis for a claim against the owner of the shopping center due to not properly maintaining a safe premises.

Q:        This meant you filed a lawsuit against the shopping center owner, as well as the other driver, correct?

A:        Correct. We initially just sued the other driver. However, once we saw the response to the subpoena and the video footage, we also took legal action against the shopping center owner.

Q:        That seemed to be a good legal strategy because ultimately at some point before this case was going to trial were you able to settle this case with both of those parties?

A:        Yes. The fact that we had two defendants helped us reach a level of insurance coverage that was enough to properly compensate my client for the amount of the damages suffered in the accident. 

Confidential Settlement