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New York Woman Awarded Largest Personal Injury Verdict in State History

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Brooklyn resident Shirley Miller was turning 32 years old in 2008. A native Israeli working as a veterinarian at the Humane Society, she was crossing over Ninth Avenue at 48th Street in Midtown Manhattan on her birthday when she was struck by a Duane Reade truck.

The truck kept going, leaving Miller behind.

Ms. Miller suffered severe injuries after the accident. Her loved ones filed a personal injury lawsuit against Duane Reade (a pharmaceutical company), claiming it was negligence on the part of their driver that caused her to suffer from massive brain damage. In early 2014, both parties agreed to a $22 million settlement—the largest recorded in New York’s history.

Defendants Hold Up Case in Court

According to the New York Daily News, Miller suffered not only brain damage, but blindness, as well, and could barely speak. She was in court for years as Duane Reade (owned by Walgreens) continued to blame her for the accident, claiming she had fallen under the rear wheel of the truck. The first trial ended in 2012 without a decision, and it took another year before a second trial got underway in November 2013.

It was only when Miller’s personal injury attorney was able to prove that her falling under the tire was an impossibility that the defendant was finally willing to negotiate. Miller reportedly wanted more—up to $100 million—but agreed to the settlement of $22 million.

Parents Accuse Duane Reade of Attempting a Cover-Up

Miller was able to sue Duane Reade in this case because the driver was working for the company at the time of the accident. Though it was the driver’s negligence that caused the accident, because he was on the clock for Duane Reade at the time, they were held responsible.

Miller’s parents were involved in the lawsuit to help recover damages to pay for their daughter’s future medical expenses. Because of the extent of Miller’s brain damage, it seems her parents will likely be caring for her for years to come. Her father was quoted as being grateful to their attorney and the court for refusing to let Duane Reade “get away with their cover-up.”

Pedestrian Fatalities Have Increased Over the Past Five Years

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrians were “one of the few groups of road users to experience an increase in fatalities in the United States in 2011, totaling 4,432 deaths.” Data from 2012 showed that the numbers went up again, to 4,743 pedestrians killed and an estimated 76,000 injured in traffic crashes. This was the highest number of fatalities for five years, and accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities.

In 2012, 90 percent of the pedestrians killed were involved in single-vehicle accidents. In most cases, the pedestrian was hit by the front of the vehicle, though when large trucks were involved, pedestrians were more likely to be hit by the right side and rear of the vehicle.

The NHTSA advises pedestrians to always be cautious, walk facing traffic, and to be visible at all times, wearing reflective gear at night. They advise drivers to look out for pedestrians everywhere, all the time, and to be particularly vigilant in situations of low visibility, such as when the weather is bad or at night.