A recent $5,332,215.00 jury verdict capped a case that had four major challenges, all of which personal injury lawyers see all too often.
The purpose of personal injury law is to make an injured victim of wrongdoing whole again. That is, to return the victim to his or her pre-injured state, through the civil justice system.
Sometimes a person’s injuries are so severe, it is impossible to make him whole or return him to full health again. In those cases, the best we can do is to recover as much as we can, to provide that victim as much quality of life as possible, in spite of lifelong disability, disfigurement, irreparable injury, chronic pain or other ongoing conditions.
These cases are always difficult, because the client is profoundly injured and nothing we do can help that. But these cases motivate us to do the very best we can. This is one such case.
Our client was riding his motorcycle straight through an intersection in San Jose. Suddenly, the defendant pulled out of a driveway, directly in front of him. Even though our client was traveling at only about 40 miles per hour, he was unable to stop in time. He was forced into the passenger side door of the other car and suffered severe injuries.
As a result of this accident, our client suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI). This has, sadly, left him with permanent disabilities. He has severe short-term memory problems and will not be able to hold a job for the rest of his life.
Because our client did not have motorcycle insurance, this case fell under California Proposition 213. This regulation prevents drivers injured in a traffic accident from receiving non-economic damages if they don’t have insurance on the vehicle they were driving – even if the accident was not their fault.
That meant our client could only collect economic damages — nothing for pain, suffering, mental anguish, or quality of life issues. We needed to account for our request for damages in actual dollar amounts of the financial cost of this accident on our client.
The speed limit where the accident occurred was 35 miles per hour. The defense claimed our client was traveling between 60 – 70 mph. They had an accident reconstructionist, a human factors expert (to define “reasonable care” in the situation), and an animated simulation of the accident.
We conceded our client was going between 37 and 46 miles per hour, or slightly over the speed limit. Their experts were able to show that if our client had been observing the speed limit, the accident would not have happened. But they were not able to prove that our client was going anywhere near as fast as they claimed.
The defendant’s insurance policy had a limit of $1 million. Because our client was partially at fault, our final request for settlement was $125,000. The insurance company refused, and brought all their experts to trial.
In the end, however, the jury agreed with our expert, and found the defendant to be comparatively more at fault than our client.
Because our client is disabled for life, the jury awarded him $4.1 million for the loss of earning capacity, and additional economic damages for his medical and other costs of his injuries. The full jury verdict was $5,332,215. He will need every penny.
Without personal injury lawyer fighting for their cause, people like his man often don’t even collect enough to cover medical costs. They are left without any source of income to deal with cognitive and physical disabilities caused by the negligence of others. They are forced to live on government assistance. And insurance companies keep on collecting billions without ever having to hold up their end of their agreement to pay for their clients’ actions.
But this time, thanks to the hard work of our team, and a successful jury verdict, the people prevailed.
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