Frequently when a personal injury trial gets attention from the press, the media will put a tabloid ‘spin’ on the story to bolster TV ratings and publication sales. The media publicized a recent trial involving injuries to a bicycle rider whom two witnesses stated ran through a red light in Harlem. The case still managed to get an $11 million verdict from a jury despite the media distraction. It sounds outlandish at first, to run a red light, hit a bus and get then money for it. But as it happens in so many cases, there is more to the story than the headline.
In this case, the plaintiff was a young man from the Bronx who was riding his bike through a busy Manhattan intersection and, admittedly went through a red light and struck the side of a bus. The MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) bus driver looked in his rear view mirror and saw that the bike rider was in trouble but decided to continue driving his bus for another 5 blocks before the police stopped him.
The jury understood the facts: If the bus had been stopped after the initial impact, the bike rider would have only sustained minor injuries from a low impact collision. Instead, the driver acted with callous indifference and kept going. As a result, the wheels of this very long and heavy bus crushed the plaintiff’s leg causing him to have his foot amputated. Needless to say this changed his life forever.
During the trial, it was shocking to hear the bus driver attempt to justify why he did not stop after seeing that the bicycle rider went down. He said, “He was not dead…I didn’t see no reason…I just kept going forward.” The jury was asked to act as the conscience of the community and to send a message to the Transit Authority that this kind of mindless behavior from people who navigate 40,000lb machines through the streets of New York City is just not acceptable. The jury did just that, no matter how the media tried to portray it. And now you know the “rest of the story” behind the “spin”.