Trial Report – Bend DUII Accident, Part I

On April 11, 2008, at about 8:45 p.m., our client was leaving a bar in Bend when he saw the Defendant engaged in a physical altercation with another patron. Our client watched the Defendant – who has admitted to drinking alcohol before this incident – strike the patron, pushing him into our client before the patron fell to the floor. The Defendant then rushed out of the bar into the parking lot. Our client also left the restaurant, where he met the Defendant in the parking lot. The Defendant began yelling obscenities and approached our client, threatening to harm him. This led to a heated verbal exchange. When the Defendant got in his minivan, our client warned him that he would call the authorities to make a DUII report if the Defendant attempted to drive. Undeterred, the Defendant got into his van and began to pull out of his parking space, so our client pulled out his phone to dial 911.

When our client walked to the front of the Defendant’s van to get the license plate number to report the DUII to the 911 operator, the Defendant began to drive in short bursts toward him, apparently attempting to scare him away. On the Defendant’s final lurch forward, his vehicle struck our client’s right knee, pinning his leg between the van and a Toyota Prius. The Defendant then tore out of the parking lot at high speed. Our client immediately called Deschutes County 911 and reported the hit-and-run to the dispatcher. The Defendant denied all of this, of course, and maintained that he backed out of the spot slowly, carefully, and without incident.

Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and, after taking witness statements, tracked the Defendant down at his home in Eagle Crest. After a brief investigation, the Defendant was arrested and taken to jail. Notably, the Defendant refused both a field sobriety test, as well as a breathalyzer test at the sheriff’s office. The Defendant was subsequently charged by the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office with DUII, Recklessly Endangering Another, and Refusal to Take a Breath Test. On July 27, 2009, the Defendant pleaded no contest to the DUII charge and entered into a diversion program which resulted in a dismissal of the charges against him.

As a result of this incident, our client sustained right knee trauma and was diagnosed with a plica injury. He underwent conservative treatment, including steroid, cortisone and joint-replacement fluid injections as well as physical therapy, before resigning himself to living with knee pain. Nearly four years after this incident, the pain in his knee causes him to walk in a way anyone witnessing it could only describe as a “hobble.”

Because of his injuries, our client, who is self-employed at his concrete business, was completely unable to work at times. Even when able to work, he had to reduce the amount of work he does and hire help to finish the jobs he continues to take – jobs he was once able to do on his own. He sustained lost wages, primarily for replacement help hired during the first several months following the accident. Further, because he cannot perform work in the manner he once could, he claimed an impairment of his earning capacity.

The Defendant denied liability, causation, and damages.

Going into trial, our prayer was for $8,350.10 for past medical expenses; $10,000 for future medical expenses; $12,000+ for lost wages; $50,000 for impaired earning capacity; and $75,000 for noneconomic damages. We also claimed $50,000 in punitive damages due to the intoxication element.

My next post will give the details of the trial.

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