Plaintiff, a 16-year-old high school student who had only recently received his license was driving down a rural road in Contra Costa County approximately 25 miles an hour over the speed limit. A man who testified that he had two to three drinks pulled out on the roadway, cutting off plaintiff and a serious crash resulted.
The plaintiff suffered a spiral fracture to his femur and became depressed and sullen.
The defense claimed that the plaintiff was clearly at fault for the accident since he was an inexperienced driver, driving 25 miles over the speed limit; that the defendant did not have time to pull out safely because plaintiff was driving so fast; and the defendant had no reason to expect somebody would be coming at him driving that fast when he pulled out on the roadway. Further, even though he had a few drinks, the defendant’s blood alcohol level was only .06, well within the legal limit at that time of .10. Further, the defense claimed that the plaintiff’s leg fracture healed well with no residuals, and his psychological injury predated the accident and he had no evidence of a traumatic brain injury.
The law offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, retained an accident reconstruction expert to indicate that although plaintiff was clearly speeding, his speed probably only exceeded the speed limit by 15 and not 25 miles per hour. Next, the law firm retained a human factors expert who testified that even if the plaintiff had been traveling at 60 miles per hour as the defense claimed, the driver would have had an opportunity to see plaintiff’s vehicle in plenty of time to avoid the pull out maneuver. Further, the human factors expert pointed to studies that indicate that even though a .06 blood alcohol level is within the legal limit, it does cause significant impairment of a driver’s ability to judge distances and take appropriate actions. Finally, during cross-examination by John Winer, the defendant admitted that he knew that other cars would speed on this particular stretch of rural roadway and he, himself, frequently speeded.
The law firm also hired a neuropsychologist to confirm the mild traumatic brain injury.
RESULT: Settlement for plaintiff of $350,000