In August 2015, Colman Law Group earned a considerable victory in a Tulare County motorcycle vs. automobile accident case. The firm defended the driver, who collided with a motorcycle operated by a 26-year-old construction worker. The defense team was able to substantially limit both the plaintiff’s award and the client driver’s liability to a fraction of what was sought.
The plaintiff contended the driver was completely at fault and asked for more than $1.5 million in compensation from the jury. Ultimately, he was awarded $220,000, and the client driver was assigned just 30% liability.
The plaintiff motorcyclist claimed he was lawfully passing the defendant’s vehicle on a two-lane state highway when the driver suddenly, and without signaling, made a left turn into his motorcycle as the plaintiff passed. The collision caused the plaintiff to lose control of his motorcycle and be ejected onto the ground. Liability for the accident was disputed by the driver, who claimed the plaintiff made an unsafe passing maneuver which caused the collision.
The accident resulted in a catastrophic injury to the plaintiff’s lower right leg (comminuted, compound fracture of the tibia and fibula). The plaintiff endured three surgeries to repair the injury, and contended that he is still functionally limited and unable to work. The plaintiff also claimed that physical limitations from the injury prevent him from attaining the higher-paying jobs he planned to pursue after his employment in construction.
The plaintiff asked the court for over $1.5 million. It was calculated based on combined past and future medical costs, and past and future lost earnings and earning capacity, in addition to a significant sum for past and future pain and suffering.
Cogent trial arguments
The plaintiff’s team emphasized the idea that forensic analysis of the accident established the defendant driver as at fault for the collision. Colman Law Group (CLG) demonstrated for the jury that the forensic review was not as accurate as portrayed by plaintiff’s experts. In addition, the CLG attorney showed why common sense would question the safety and legality of the plaintiff passing the driver on a two-lane state highway.
The defense did not dispute that the plaintiff had sustained a significant injury from the collision. Instead the firm illustrated to the jury that the motorcycle rider’s leg was well on the way to healing and he should be able to return to work in the near future. For further verification, CLG showed that nothing about the plaintiff’s injury or alleged limitations would prevent him from pursuing his career goals.
The defense ultimately convinced the jury that the accident was primarily the plaintiff’s fault (70% plaintiff liability, 30% defendant). As the firm proved, the plaintiff should be compensated with an award appropriate to the motorcyclist’s recovery and employability.
Plaintiff awarded a sliver of his request
The jury returned a verdict of $220,000, rather than the $1.5 million requested, and further, assigned the plaintiff a 70% share of liability. About half of the award was tied to the previously agreed-upon and fixed past medical expenses (i.e., the past surgeries), meaning CLG had effectively demonstrated that plaintiff’s injury would not significantly limit him in his future work or personal life. This verdict represented a major victory for the defense.
At one point the plaintiff’s trial experts had set forth a figure in the several millions for lost wages and earning capacity, as well as hundreds of thousands in future medical care, all the while placing blame for the accident solely upon the CLG client.