A Massachusetts jury has awarded $10 million to a 58-year-old woman who suffered severe brain damage after she was hit by a public transit bus while waiting to get to work, the Boston Globe reports. After the bus crash, Louise Scialdone is reportedly not able to work and has serious problems related to her brain injury such as balance, memory, sensitivity to light and the mental capacity of a third grader.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority must now pay Scialdone about $12.8 million from the date her suit was filed, factoring in interest. Jurors announced their verdict after only four hours of deliberations, the article said.
The accident reportedly occurred Feb. 4, 2004 when Scialdone, who used a walker because of her arthritis, was waiting at a bus stop. The bus driver lost control of the vehicle, fishtailed onto the sidewalk and knocked the woman off her feet. Scialdone was then thrown 5 feet and her head slammed into a parked car, the article said. She lost consciousness and was in and out of the hospital for weeks after the accident.
Her lawsuit, which was filed 18 months after the incident, alleged that the bus driver, whose vehicle was out of service, was traveling too fast on the icy road. Lawyers for the bus company actually argued that some of Scialdone’s injuries had been caused by her arthritic condition. But the jury didn’t buy that. The bus driver who hit her apparently still has her job after being disciplined and being suspended for one day.
And what did the bus company offer Scialdone before the case went to trial? No more than $1 million, say her attorneys who were willing to settle for $9 million. Scialdone has now been awarded $4 million more than what the transit authority officials could have settled for. As for Scialdone, the money will serve her well. She apparently needs care round-the-clock. The woman, who used to take her grandchildren on vacations and fun day trips can’t take care of herself now. A once avid reader, she can barely read at third-grade level now.
Brain injuries, most commonly caused by auto accidents, certainly do change people’s lives. It dramatically transforms them into a fraction of the personality they once were, making them dependents for life. The millions that this woman received in this jury award most definitely won’t be used to buy designer clothes or fancy cars. On the other hand, it will be used to pay her medical bills during her lifetime and the high cost of her necessary round-the-clock care.