A Morris County jury awarded an accomplished amateur pianist $2.5 million after he sustained a permanent elbow injury in a car crash.
According to evidence presented at trial, on November 20, 2011, 47-year-old William Finizio, of New York City, was travelling westbound on Route 80 in Parsippany when Ilija Lumbarda, of Rutherford, N.J., suddenly emerged from between two barrels and collided with Mr. Finizio. AT the scene, Mr. Lumbarda told police that he was unsure which lane was his, due to road construction. Neither driver reported any injuries, according to the police report.
But Mr. Finizio soon began experiencing pain in his left elbow. Later, in the damages portion of the negligence trial, the jury heard from a number of witnesses, including composer and NYU teacher Seymour Bernstein, who testified that Mr. Finizio played classical piano, percussion instruments, and electric guitar, all at very high levels. The jury also heard from an occupational therapist and orthopedic surgeon.
The jury voted 6-1 to award damages based on disability, pain and suffering, impairment, and loss of enjoyment of life
There are several elements of compensatory damages, which are also called special damages, because they are special to the facts in the case. These damages are designed to put the victims in the same position they were in before the car crash or other negligent event.
Vehicle damage is generally the largest component in property damages. Lost personal property is also included, as is any other property damage, like a wrecked fence or uprooted tree. Many times, these items have emotional value that may exceed the financial value, and the jury is allowed to consider both these things.
Lost wages, medical bills, and physical rehabilitation expenses are also compensable. To determine the amount of future lost wages, if applicable, an attorney often partners with a medical expert that testifies as to the extent and nature of the disability. Such a witness is normally required anyway, because the insurance company nearly always argues that not all the treatment that the victim received was medically necessary.
In a serious crash, which includes most any permanent or temporary disability, victims are also entitled to compensation for noneconomic losses. These items include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of enjoyment in life,
- Emotional distress, and
- Loss of consortium, which generally means companionship and contribution to household chores.
In the above case, the jury believed that $2.5 million was a reasonable sum to compensate the victim for his losses, even though he was not a professional musician.
Serious injuries often result in high damage awards. For a free consultation with attorneys who fight for the compensation you deserve, contact Proner & Proner. Our main office is conveniently located across from Grand Central Station.