Himzija Selimovic was seriously injured in this January 2014 accident in Hartford. (Image from court documents)
A 54-year-old Hartford man who was the victim of a freak accident in which a van tumbled onto his car has settled his lawsuit for $425,000.
Himzija Selimovic was in the driver’s seat and parked on the side of Franklin Avenue in Hartford when a Chevy Express driven by Felix Santos landed on his car. Selimovic had been parked along a curb waiting for his child to get off a school bus when the accident occurred. He sustained numerous injuries, including to his back and right leg; experienced blurred vision and chest pain.
Selimovic’s attorneys and attorneys for DATTCO bus company and several insurance companies settled the case in mediation July 7. The case was mediated in Middletown Superior Court by Judge Julia Aurigemma.
A lawsuit – filed in December 2016 – states that a DATTCO bus packed with school children and driven by Verna Montgomery pulled out directly in front of Santos’ motor vehicle. The lawsuit alleges both vehicles were speeding, but their exact speed was not stated. Santos had been traveling fast enough, the lawsuit states, for his van to flip over twice after hitting the bus and landing on Selimovic’s car.
Neither Montgomery nor the school children were seriously injured. One of Santos’ passengers, Robert Romero, reportedly sustained injuries.
Portions of the accident were captured on the bus surveillance video, according to Manny Cicchiello, Selimovic’s attorney. Both Santos and Montgomery were named defendants in the lawsuit.
Montgomery, Cicchiello said, was jockeying back and forth with another bus on the street in an effort to get by that bus. “She [Montgomery] was focused on her left side and accelerated into the roadway and struck Santos’ vehicle leading to the accident,” Cicchiello said. Montgomery was issued an infraction by police for unsafe movement from a stopped position.
While Santos was not cited by police, Cicchiello, owner/partner of Cicchiello & Cicchiello in Hartford, said he was also at fault.
“He should have been able to stop or make maneuvers to avoid a bus if he was paying attention and driving reasonably,” Cicchiello told the Connecticut Law Tribune.
A native of Bosnia, Selimovic was a manual laborer before the accident, Cicchiello said. Due to his injuries, he has not worked since the incident, he added.
“I thought it was a fair settlement,” Cicchiello said. “He had projected lost wages of between $100,000 and $300,000 for the rest of his working life, or about the next 10 years.”
The injuries “are debilitating and he is now required to use a cane to walk around,” Cicchiello said of his client.
In total, DATTCO paid out $350,000 and Geico, Santos’ insurance carrier, paid $75,000. The money should be dispersed to Selimovic within the month, Cicchiello said.
Jeffrey Lahr, a principal of Vehslage & Lahr in Wethersfield, represented DATTCO. He was not available for comment Thursday.
Dennis McManus of Paul Sullivan & Associates in West Hartford, represented Geico and Santos. He also wasn’t available for comment.
Jury selection would have begun July 13.