Verdict in Williams vs Big Dog Taxi
A recent verdict in San Francisco was noteworthy for a deserving plaintiff. In the vehicle-pedestrian case, Williams v. Big Dog City Corporation and David Kreutner (July 2018), Plaintiff Cheryl Williams’ attorneys helped her receive a settlement worth over a million dollars.
On March 11, 2016, 52-year-old Cheryl Williams was on her way to work in downtown San Francisco. She was walking in a crosswalk at the intersection of Market and 4th Streets when she was struck by a taxicab. The taxi driver, 75-year-old David Kreutner apparently ran a red light when he hit Williams. Kreutner was operating a taxi owned by Big Dog City Corporation.Injuries from the Accident
Williams suffered a fractured left ankle as a result of the accident. The injury led to post-traumatic arthritis in the back of her ankle. She was on crutches for three months. Even after getting off crutches and being able to walk on her own, she continued to experience intermittent pain and swelling from her injuries.Consequences of the Injuries
Before the accident, Williams worked as a sales associate for Christian Dior, a high-end designer fashion store. The job demanded hours of standing. After recovering from the accident, Williams returned to work. However, after trying to perform her job duty unsuccessfully, she was forced to leave within eight months. With no job and no money to pay her bills, she moved back in with her parents in Tennessee.The Trial
Williams filed a personal injury claim and hired a San Francisco personal injury lawyer to help her with the case. The trial was held in Superior Court in San Francisco County with Judge Charlene Padovani Kiesselbach presiding.
During the trial, the defendants, David Kreutner and taxi company, Big Dog City Corporation acknowledged negligence but contested causation, damages and vicarious liability as to the taxi company.
Big Dog City claimed that it had entered into a lease agreement with its drivers, allowing them to use the taxi for any purpose they choose such as delivering food and moving furniture and forces no requirements on the drivers to pick up calls.
Big Dog City also contended Williams’ claim that she lost earnings from her job. Defendants provided evidence that Williams had a past career as an accountant, which not only offered a higher earning than her sales job but was also a job that she could perform physically after her injury.The Jury’s Decision
The issue went to the jury with California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) on vicarious liability for an employer-employee or principal-agent relationship. In an 11-1 decision, the jury found that Big Dog City was indeed Kreutner’s employer or principal.998 Offers
In October 2017, Plaintiff made a 998 offer of $470,000. By March 2018, the offer was reduced to $450,000. Defendant made a 998 offer of $150,000 in February 2018 and later decreased it to $125,000 in April 2018. Defendant increased the offer to $650,000 during deliberations, but Plaintiff rejected the offer.The Verdict
Williams and her attorneys won a verdict totaling $1,087,017.21. In the breakdown, she received $487,017 in economic damages, which consists of:
- $43,226.21 in past medical bills
- $118,043 in past lost earnings
- $3,198 in past loss of household services
- $100,000 in future medical expenses
- $222,550 in future loss of earnings
And $600,000 in non-economic damages:
- $350,000 past
- $250,000 future
As of September 2018, prevailing party costs and California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) section 998 prejudgment interest and expert fees totaled about $223,000.
Vehicle-pedestrian accidents are on the rise throughout the United States. Studies have shown that walking in the city is dangerous. A report from the California Office of Traffic Safety showed that in Sacramento, about 300 people were injured or killed in 2015. The number of people killed in pedestrian-related accidents was nearly doubled by 2017.
One of the top reasons why pedestrians are at such a high risk for injuries and deaths is due to the lack of protection that they have in a vehicle-pedestrian accident. A pedestrian has no chance when it comes face to face with a vehicle that weighs 3000 pounds.
Another factor has to do with many drivers failing to watch for pedestrians, especially outside of the crosswalk.
Speed is also a reason why pedestrian accidents frequently occur. When a driver’s speed increases, the risk of a serious pedestrian injury increases as well. A recent study showed that when a car is traveling at 20 mph and hits a pedestrian, there’s a 5 percent chance that the pedestrian will suffer fatal injuries. However, if the car is traveling at 40 mph, the risk of a pedestrian getting killed increased to 85 percent.Motorists Responsibility
Drivers must keep a high degree of awareness for pedestrians. Most pedestrian accidents happen outside of crosswalks and at night. Below are some tips for motorists:
- Obey the speed limit and don’t speed.
- Be on the lookout for pedestrians.
- Yield to walkers in crosswalks.
- Don’t drive drunk.
- Don’t drive distracted.
Pedestrians also have a responsibility to stay safe while walking. The following tips are for pedestrians:
- Wear bright color clothing, especially at night.
- Don’t be distracted by your cell phone.
- Don’t wear headphones.
- Don’t assume that motorists see you.
- Use crosswalks.
- Use sidewalks whenever possible.
- Hold children's hands.
- Don’t drink before you head out.
I’m Ed Smith, a taxi injury lawyer in Sacramento. Pedestrians can sustain serious injuries or even death in a vehicle-pedestrian accident. If you have suffered injuries or if a loved one has been killed as a result of a pedestrian accident, please call me for free and friendly advice on how you can claim compensation from a negligent party. I am available anytime at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. I can also be reached online on our contact form.
I've been practicing law in Sacramento since 1982 while helping many residents get fair compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death cases.
To find out how we've assisted our clients in the past, see our verdicts and settlements page.
To see reviews and ratings from past clients that we've worked with, go on:
I am a proud member of the California chapter of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. The attorneys in this forum have all won verdicts or settlements worth more than one million dollars for our clients.
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 8.9.19]