A motorcyclist who was critically injured in a construction zone crash recently received $18.5 million in a settlement against a state department of transportation, its contractor and a dump truck driver who was involved.
According to The Chronicle, the Washington State crash involved some facts that were “hotly disputed” by the parties. However, it seems in the end the motorcyclist made a strong case for both liability and damages even prior to trial, as the parties were willing to settle for this sizable sum before the case could even reach a jury. That suggests defendants recognized they could have lost even bigger at trial.
Motorcyclist, who must now use a motorized wheelchair, has suffered permanent and debilitating injuries.
The crash reportedly happened early one morning in April 2015, when plaintiff was on his motorcycle entering a highway from an on-ramp where construction crews were working. It was at this time that plaintiff’s motorcycle collided with a dump truck that was driven by an employee of a construction contractor for the Washington State Department of Transportation. The truck driver reportedly made an illegal u-turn that resulted in unexpectedly blocking traffic on the on-ramp.
Best practices say the trucker should have either used a gravel access road to make his turn-around, or else made sure a flagger was on-site to alert oncoming traffic to his blocking the lane.
Plaintiff suffered critical injuries, including traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma for a month, after which he was released to a rehabilitation center. However, after a single day, he was rushed to a local hospital where he nearly died during emergency surgery. He then fought off a number of serious infections.
He spent more than a year in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. His attorney said he received a poor level of care and very limited therapy. Today, he suffers from extensive brain damage that is likely to become a progressive form of dementia. He cannot use his hands functionally, and his personality has also been impacted. He can walk, but his movements are limited to a shuffle. He will never again be an independent person.
His partner and now legal guardian filed the multi-million dollar lawsuit against WSDOT, the contractor and the driver back in June. Those cases were consolidated, and plaintiff asked for $30 million in economic damages and even more in punitive damages. Punitive damages are those that exceed simple compensation of plaintiff’s losses and are awarded with the intent of punishing the defendant.
The only reason plaintiff was inclined to settle for less than that was that focus groups for both the plaintiff and defense side concluded a jury in that county would likely hold the motorcyclist at least partially responsible for the motorcycle accident that caused his injuries. Depending on the amount of fault he was apportioned, this could have significantly cut into the damages to which he would have been entitled.
Although $18 million sounds like a lot of money, most of it is going toward ensuring plaintiff’s medical expenses and other basic needs will be covered for life. His attorney indicated the amount is “sufficient” to cover medical expenses. The settlement calls for an annual payment into a trust that will be managed specifically for his medical expenses. It also covers his attorneys’ fees.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Damages for Rochester Man Injured in I-5 Crash Could Exceed $30 Million, April 22, 2017, By Natalie Johnson, The Chronicle, Motorcycle Accident Attorney Blog
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