The plaintiff in this case was a 45-year-old motorcyclist who suffered a below-the-knee leg amputation when his motorcycle collided with an automobile that pulled out of a shopping center driveway directly in the path of his motorcycle.
Through a thorough investigation, the law offices of Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, was able to establish that a County bus was illegally parked next to the driveway exit of the shopping center. The location of the illegally blocked bus prevented the vehicle driver and the motorcyclist from seeing each other for several seconds before the accident.
The case settled with the driver of the motor vehicle for his $100,000 policy limit because the driver was clearly the primary cause of the collision.
During the litigation of the case against the bus company, the bus company alleged that the bus was not illegally parked because it was on an early morning training mission for new drivers and the bus was not actually parked, it was being used to teach new drivers parking techniques; that the complete responsibility for the accident fell on the motorcyclist and automobile driver since they had more than enough opportunity to see each other and drive more carefully to avoid the accident; and that by the time the motorcyclist arrived at the point in the roadway where the bus would have blocked his view, it was too late to avoid the accident; thus the bus was not a cause of the accident.
The law offices of Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, retained a motorcycle expert, a bus expert and an accident reconstruction expert to help establish that the bus was in fact illegally parked even if it was on a training mission; that because of the size of buses, a bus operator must be careful not to park too close to driveways and that buses are known to obscure the visibility of other vehicles. The experts further testified that the damage to the motorcycle and automobile indicated speeds that would have made the parked bus a contributing factor to the accident because it blocked the view of the motorcyclist and the automobile driver for at least four seconds. This would have been sufficient time for either the motorcyclist or the auto driver to take defensive action and avoid the accident.
Under California law, a defendant in a case is only responsible for pain and suffering damages up to the percentage of its fault; thus, because the vehicle driver was clearly primarily responsible for the accident, plaintiff was not able to recover the full value of an amputated leg case. The defendant claimed that since its general damage exposure was limited, and plaintiff’s economic damages were low because the plaintiff was able to return to work at his former job within nine months of the accident, that plaintiff’s damage award should be severely limited. Further, plaintiff suffered from incurable cancer, thus all his future damages were limited (plaintiff died within one year of the settlement).
When the law offices of Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, entered the case, there was no settlement offer from the bus company to the plaintiff. The $750,000 settlement against the bus company was one of the largest settlements in the State of California in a case against an illegally parked vehicle.
RESULT: Total settlement on behalf of plaintiff $850,000