Our client was operating his motorcycle on a rural stretch of highway. He came upon an airport shuttle van followed by a Jeep. Both were traveling slowly, and the shuttle van driver appeared to be lost. Not seeing any turn signals, our client attempted to pass both vehicles on the left in a marked passing zone. However, as he did so, the van swerved first to the right, then to the left across the lane of travel. As a result, our client struck the side of the van, breaking his leg, which required surgery.
Challenges Involved in the Case
Our client was cited in the collision, though the ticket was ultimately dismissed. However, the business ended up suing our client for the damage to its van. The attorney our client’s insurance company hired to defend the property damage claim recognized that our client may have a claim of his own, and referred the client over to us to evaluate and handle that claim.
But our client’s claim was not easy. First, he was operating a fast “crotch rocket” style motorcycle, so the business’ lawyers knew that a jury would likely be biased against him for that reason alone. Additionally, he was attempting to pass two slow moving vehicles at the same time, and testified that once he committed to the pass, he was taught not to decommit, so he didn’t, even though he noticed the van begin to move from the center of its lane to its right. He also testified that there were no driveways or houses to the right of the van which it might have been turning into, which the defense attorney argued meant that our client should have recognized he was preparing to make a left turn. Finally, the driver of the van claimed that he had his left turn signal on prior to the crash.
Steps Taken by Our Lawyers
The Medford offices of Dwyer Williams Dretke filed a counterclaim against the business that owned and operated the van. We proceeded through discovery, asking for numerous related documents, deposing the driver of the van, the owner of the business, and several witnesses to the crash.
Notably, the driver of the van, while claiming he had his left turn signal on at the time of the crash, further claimed that it was still on after he parked the van. However, we pointed out that once his wheels were straightened out – as the police photos clearly showed – that his left turn signal would have turned off. Thus, this could only mean he turned his left signal on after he stopped his van after the crash to stage his claim. More telling was the fact he immediately called his boss after the crash, before even checking on our client who was unconscious with a severely broken leg outside of the van. Additionally, the driver claimed that he turned his signal on when he saw the address of the house he was traveling to. However, the address marker for the driveway at issue could not be seen from the road until the driver was within 20 feet of it – not 100+ feet that the driver had claimed. Nothing about the van driver’s story smelled right.
Before trial, our client’s insurance company settled the property damage claim the business had filed against him, leaving only our personal injury claim at issue. We were unable to get a reasonable settlement offer on our claim, so ultimately tried the case before a 12 person jury.
Resolution for Our Client
We took the case to trial where the jury determined that our client had sustained $288,114.13 in damages. However, the jury also felt that both parties were equally at fault, thereby cutting his judgment to half this amount. Ultimately, this was not a bad result for a case that most outside lawyers thought was un-winnable.
To see more cases that we have successfully fought for our clients check out our settlements page.