Motorcycle Accident Cases: Recent Settlements and Jury Verdicts

Some of the most horrific damages come in motorcycle accident cases. With little protection between the motorcycle driver and the other vehicle or the road, medical injuries and damages can escalate.  Determining what your case is worth is critical for an injured motorcycle driver.  And settlement amounts and jury verdicts, although the numbers differ widely, can often help you and your attorney understand the value of your case.

Arnold Petersen v. Mark Alexander Faria: Disputed Liability California Highway (2015)

Plaintiff was riding his motorcycle northbound on highway 101 in Santa Clara County during the morning rush hour in the number 1 lane.  The Defendant, who was driving a vehicle directly in front of the plaintiff did not see traffic slow down and although he slammed on his brakes, he lost control of his vehicle, fishtailing into lane 2 where the plaintiff had moved to avoid the plaintiff’s vehicle.  The defendant’s vehicle dragged the plaintiff across 2 more lanes and into the shoulder.

The plaintiff contended that the defendant was inattentive and lost control of his vehicle. The defendant contended that the plaintiff was driving too close and that the defendant moved into lane 2 before the plaintiff did.

The plaintiff suffered a hip dislocation and fracture requiring surgery. By the time the matter came up for trial, the plaintiff’s medical damages were $175,000 and another $40,000 of medical damages were estimated in the future.

Verdict: 1.2 million. Matter was ordered to a new trial only on the issue of plaintiff’s comparative negligence.

Carlos Madrigal v. Richard Tang and Anna Tang: Disputed Unsafe Lane Change, Los Angeles County (2012)

Mr. Tang was driving westbound on Vernon in the number 1 lane. He changed lanes to the #2 lane and then made a right hand turn into a driveway from the #2 lane.  The plaintiff’s motorcycle collided with the rear passenger side of the Tangs’ vehicle.  Plaintiff did not have any insurance and thus was limited to medical expense damages.

The plaintiff contended that Mr. Tang made an unsafe lane change into the plaintiff’s lane. The defendant contended that he was in the curb lane and that the plaintiff tries to unsafely pass in a “gutter sniping” attempt.

The plaintiff had spinal surgery and is now a paraplegic. Past medical damages were approximately $100,000 and future damages were disputed.

Verdict: $9 million

Merrill v. Sprint Waste Services et al.  Texas Plaintiff Gets $0 With $7 Million in Damages

The plaintiff was driving a motorcycles on a service road when the defendant 18 wheeler truck in front of him swung wide to try to make a left turn. Plaintiff tries to pass the truck to the right and was cut off  by the turning truck. The plaintiff flew over the handlebars and under the truck’s tires, suffering serious injuries.  Plaintiff admitted to speeding and the truck driver admitted to making the movement to the right wider than was needed to make the turn. Liability was disputed.

In Texas, the law states that a claimant may not recover damages if the claimant’s percentage of responsibility for the accident is more than 50%. Plaintiff was judged to have been more than 50% at fault and was thus prohibited from collecting any damages. Upheld at appeal. (14th district–No. 14-16-00006-CV.

Madelynn Tapken vs. Spokane County, Washington (2017)

A motorcycle passenger was recently awarded $7.5 million for an accident in an unsafe intersection.  The plaintiff was riding on the back of a motorcycle as she and the driver were approaching a Y intersection.  There were no signs posted warning of a safe speed to enter the curve of the Y.  The motorcycle driver slowed down to between 30 and 35 mph to enter the curve.  but it was not sufficient and the motorcycle and plaintiff crashed. At trial, a county employee testified that 20 mph was the maximum safe speed with which to enter the Y.  There was a yield sign posted in advance of the curve.  The motorcycle driver was familiar with the curve, having driven at least once before.

Plaintiff suffered serious injuries. At trial liability was apportioned 30% to the motorcycle driver and 70% to the County.

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