The jury in the motor vehicle accident trial of Jennel Morgan v. Aleksandr Arakelov, decided in favor of the plaintiff resulting in an award of 1.375 million.
Morgan was injured, in November 2013, when an out-of-control box truck crossed over into the opposing lane of traffic and ran into six parked vehicles on Avenue D in the Brooklyn Terminal Market area. Morgan was in the last of the cars struck. The officer on the scene at the time testified that the truck driver admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, which the truck driver (Aleksandr Arakelov), denied at trial.
Judge Rivera directed a verdict in favor of the plaintiff against the defendants. The trial proceeded on the determination of damages.
Morgan, 25 years old, at the time of the accident, claimed serious injury to her neck, back & shoulders. She claimed disc herniation, bulging discs and bilateral labral tears. In addition to physical therapy, Morgan underwent cervical disc fusion as well as two arthroscopic shoulder surgeries.
Opposing counsel representing Arakelov, Leo’s Apple Ltd. and Salem Truck Leasing Inc. Passarelli called on expert testimony supporting his allegation that Morgan’s injuries were degenerative, not traumatic. A biomechanical engineer alleged that the forces exerted on Morgan inside her parked vehicle would have been minimal and could not have resulted in the claimed injuries.
Surveillance video which captured the (MVA) accident showed Morgan’s car pinned against an adjacent building wall. After three hours of deliberation the jury returned awarding Morgan damages totaling $1.375 million. The recoverable amount will be amended to meet the existing high-low agreement in place.
High Low Agreement Explained:
High Low Agreements are made between the plaintiffs, the defendants, and their attorneys. The purpose of such an agreement is to set a high or preset limit as well as a bottom low for which the case will be resolved. This agreement guarantees that the injured plaintiff will receive monetary compensation which eliminates the possibility of obtaining no recovery in the event of a dismissal or defense verdict after trial.
It also sets a cap on the monetary recovery, in actuality protecting the defendants from having to pay a large amount in the event a jury awards a very large sum to the injured party. The terms of such an agreements should be negotiated carefully.