$11 Million Jury Verdict for Traumatic Brain Injury of Teen Skateboarder Struck by Car

Samuel Kim was riding his skateboard in Cerritos, Calif. As he entered an intersection on a green light and began crossing at the crosswalk, Arsham Baltayan, who was driving a car in the scope and course of his job with a car dealership, turned right into the intersection on a red light. Kim was unable to stop in time and struck the right passenger side of Baltayan’s vehicle.

Kim was just 14 years old at the time and was not wearing a helmet. He was thrown to the pavement and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The brain injury has resulted in personality and behavioral changes.

When he reached the age of majority, he sued Baltayan and the automobile dealership claiming that Baltayan was negligent in choosing not to keep a proper lookout and yield to a skateboarder with the right-of-way in the crosswalk.

One of the attorneys for Kim took over the case for another lawyer who had received the defense offer of just $74,500. At pretrial mediation, Kim demanded the company’s insurance policy limits. Baltayan and the car dealership offered $500,000, later raising the offer to $750,000.  Kim rejected those offers and the case went to trial with a jury. Kim sought future medical expenses and noneconomic damages but waived claims for lost earnings and past medical expenses.

At this jury trial, Kim testified that just before the impact with the Baltayan vehicle, he saw Baltayan looking to the left and not in the direction that he was driving. Kim testified that this was the last thing he remembered before the crash.

On the issue of damages, Kim presented evidence detailing how the brain injury has affected his personality and behavior. Kim’s friends and family also testified to the subtle, but significant changes in Kim’s personality.

Baltayan maintained that he had exercised due care and caution in stopping and looking carefully in all directions before slowly proceeding into the intersection. Baltayan argued that he was in the process of making a lawful right turn when Kim struck the side of his car. Baltayan testified that he was nearly through the intersection when Kim struck his car. Another witness corroborated that testimony.

The defendants also contended that Kim was comparatively negligent in choosing not to wear a helmet as required by state law and that he failed to stop at the intersection or press the pedestrian “walk” button before entering.

Lastly, the defendants argued that Kim’s head injury was relatively minor and that any personality changes he suffered were the result of other unrelated causes.

The jury’s verdict of $11 million allocated fault at 75% on the defendants and 25% to Kim. The verdict included $8,500,000 for future life care costs, $1,500,000 for future pain and suffering and $1 million for past pain and suffering.

After reduction for fault (75%/25%), the verdict totaled $8,250,000. After this trial, the parties settled the case for $8,300,000 paid by the defendants’ joint insurer.

The attorneys successfully representing Kim at this trial were Jae Y. Lee and Daniel E. Hoffman.

At this jury trial, experts were presented by the team of lawyers for Kim in accident reconstruction, neurology, psychiatry, neuropsychology and life care planning.

The defendants presented expert testimony in human factors, helmet performance, biomechanics, neurology and neuropsychology.

Kim v. Baltayan, No. 30-2011-00527824 (Cal. Super. Ct. Orange County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling bicycle accident lawsuits, traumatic brain injury cases, car accident lawsuits and truck negligence lawsuits for individuals, families and the loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Palos Hills, Countryside, Western Springs, Lemont, Oak Forest, Worth, Blue Island, South Holland, Chicago (Beverly, Roscoe Village, West Town, West Loop, Old Town, Gold Coast, Logan Square, Albany Park), Hoffman Estates, Harwood Heights, Glencoe, Glenview and Deerfield, Ill.

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