LRIS Attorney Sandra Ribera Speed Perseveres to Settle Crosswalk Injury Case for $1.175M

LRIS Attorney Sandra Ribera Speed Perseveres to Settle Crosswalk Injury Case for $1.175M

In May of 2019, the San Francisco-Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service answered a call from a client needing representation for a hit and run accident involving her 14-month-old son who was struck by a car on International Blvd and 48th Avenue in Oakland. At the hospital, the client was informed that her young son had sustained a mild traumatic brain injury. Upon the client calling the LRIS, a legal interviewer referred the case to LRIS member Sandra Ribera Speed, a personal injury attorney with a proven record of effectively representing LRIS clients.  As a mother herself, Sandra has expressed great interest in child-related cases and was therefore determined to seek justice for the young child, knowing that a life-altering traffic accident could happen to any young family, including her own.

The case challenged Sandra from the onset with a hit-and-run driver that police were unable to identify. Without the driver, Sandra turned to other potential defendants that could be liable for the hit-and-run. To best address the complexities of the case, Sandra brought on Jennifer Fiore and Sophia Achermann of Fiore Achermann as her co-counsel. Through interviews with the client and careful review of the police report, three potential defendants were identified: the city of Oakland, AC Transit, and OC Jones. Before the incident, AC Transit had contracted OC Jones to complete construction near the AC Transit bus line including a temporary crosswalk. This crosswalk lacked the striping indicative of a pedestrian walkway and instead had far more subtle markings. From these facts, OC Jones and AC Transit emerged as the principal defendants for the hit-and-run as they had been negligent with their construction of the temporary crosswalk.

Going toe-to-toe with powerful and well-resourced defense teams employed by AC Transit and OC Jones, Sandra and the Fiore Achermann team knew it was imperative to validate the damages inflicted on the young child. Sandra started the case by consulting a pediatric neuropsychologist to conduct a psychiatric evaluation on the child. From this evaluation, the psychologist determined that the brain injury would have lasting effects on the child’s abilities and educational prospects, noting how the young child “would be lucky if they finished high school.” Sandra consulted 9 other experts on the case to provide expert depositions to not only prove the child’s lasting effects but also to emphasize the dangerous conditions that made this incident possible.

Based on the feedback of a focus group, Sandra knew this was a strong case and was eager to take the case to trial; however, when jury selection approached, the judge removed herself from the case, creating an unexpected stall by approximately one year. As the young child struggled with night terrors, outbursts, and other neurological symptoms of the brain injury, Sandra, Jennifer, and Sophia pushed forward, never wavering in their efforts to secure a just outcome. After 4 years, in June of 2023, Sandra settled the case and later finalized on the minor’s compromise with the client in April 2024.

Reminiscing on the journey of this case, Sandra commented that the LRIS offers diamonds in the rough and commended the program’s ability to connect these cases to attorneys. Sandra also recognized the mother’s tireless advocacy of her son to ensure he received support to deal with the ongoing complications of his injuries. Today, the client son’s is doing well thanks to the support of his mother and health care providers. The assurance of a structured settlement as the child matures into adulthood has provided a peace of mind for the client, an outcome made possible through the efforts of Sandra and her co-counsel at Fiore Achermann.