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Girl awarded $43m in lawsuit after school bus crash led to reconstructive surgery

A 13-year-old girl in Brooklyn has been awarded $43.5m after a school bus plowed through an intersection causing several bone fractures and forcing the teen to have reconstructive surgery.

In the afternoon of 15 February 2017, the girl — then 11 years old — was crossing a street in the Crown Heights neighbourhood of New York City when a bus driver with United Lubavitcher Yeshiva school failed to stop his yellow bus while making a right turn from a side street and smashed into the girl. 

Severe tears on her urethra required reconstructive surgery, and the girl now uses a catheter to help her urinate.

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The girl — whose name was withheld from court documents —spent a month in the intensive care unit at an area hospital recovering from fractured femurs, lung injuries, and fractures on her pelvis and ribs, according to court filings.

A jury in a New York Supreme Court agreed to award the $45.3m verdict on Wednesday following a two-week trial in a lawsuit filed against the school and the driver.

Attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who represented the girl and her family, said that "justice was done ... but nothing will be able to put this child in the physical condition before this horrific accident.

He said: "At least now she will get appropriate medical attention she will need for the rest of her life."

The driver, Shneur Brownstein, had violated several other traffic laws when he hit the girl, according to the lawsuit.

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio's "Vision Zero" policy, intended to strike at the wave of traffic deaths and accidents in the city with harsher penalties, Mr Brownstein had been charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

The bus belonged to a nearby Crown Heights school, which called the incident "an unfortunate accident" following the crash.

In a 2017 statement, the school said its "thoughts and prayers are with the girl and her family for a complete and speedy recovery."

There were 45 total traffic collisions in that policing district in 2017 and 46 in 2018. So far in 2019, there have been 39, according to data from the New York Police Department.

Traffic-related pedestrian injuries have decreased in that area since 2017. Eight people were injured in collisions in 2017, and six people were hurt in 2018. Five people were hurt in traffic collisions in 2019.