14-Year-Old Orange County Skateboarder Recovers $8M after Hit by Vehicle in Crosswalk
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14-Year-Old Orange County Skateboarder Recovers $8M after Hit by Vehicle in Crosswalk

Friday, April 21, 2017By Richard Alexander

Ten years ago, then only 14 years old, Samuel Kim was trying to cross the Street on a skateboard. Just as he entered the road, he was hit by a car driven by Arsham Baltayan, who was making a right hand turn. Samuel Kim was thrown off his skateboard and hit the pavement hard, sustaining blunt force trauma to his head in the process.

Immediately, he was rushed to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released. But that was not the end of it. Kim claimed that he began to suffer from severe paranoia and social anxiety after the accident, which led to negative behaviorial and personality changes. He also claimed that the accident had affected his concentration, necessitating the assistance of an attendant at all times.

Consequently, Kim sued Baltayan and his employer, Costa Mesa Lincoln Mercury Inc., as well as Paul Fang, the owner of Costa Mesa Lincoln Mercury, Inc. Fang was discharged from the case, and Kim elected to waive claims for medical expenses already incurred and loss of earnings or future earnings. He wanted to be compensated only for future medical expenses, for the past and future pain and suffering he had incurred, and for future pain and suffering caused by the accident.

The defense lawyers argued that the 14-year-old was not wearing a helmet when the accident occurred, as was required by law. They called several helmet experts who testified that Kim could have avoided his injuries if he had worn one. Experts also testified that the head injuries suffered by Kim were relatively mild and that any behavioral changes were unrelated to the crash. Plaintiff's counsel countered by citing previous cases where the same medical experts had claimed a helmet would not have prevented the type of injuries suffered by a plaintiff.

Defense counsel asserted that the driver had come to a complete stop at the intersection and taken his foot off the brake to make a legal turn only after looking both ways multiple times, checking the four pedestrian crossings, and looking for cars making u-turns. The driver said he had almost passed through the crosswalk when Kim crashed into his vehicle at a high speed. Baltayan's passenger corroborated this version of the events.

In turn, Kim argued that he had entered the crosswalk only when the light had turned green, and not before. He also said that the last thing he remembered, before he was thrown from his skateboard, was that the driver was looking away from the direction in which he was turning. Kim's lawyer asserted that Baltayan's testimony as to the vigilance with which he checked the intersection before turning was unbelievable.

The jury awarded $11 million in damages, but found Kim 25 percent at fault. Therefore, his award was reduced to $8.25 million.

The San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP will fervently work with you to procure all possible monetary compensation after an accident. Our goal is to help our clients and their families receive proper compensation for their pain and suffering. You can reach one of our San Francisco personal injury attorneys at 888.777.1776 or by using our online contact form.

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