Multi-Million Dollar Jury Verdict in Motorcycle Wreck Claim
After carefully reviewing the evidence, a Los Angeles County jury awarded over $21 million in damages to a motorcycle crash victim.
The incident occurred in February 2018. According to evidence submitted at trial, a Kia Optima exited the 405 Freeway’s carpool lane without signalling. The Kia collided with Matthew Rada’s motorcycle. The force of the impact propelled Rada across three lanes of traffic and caused him to slam into a flatbed trailer. Rada spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgical procedures.
Footage from a GoPro camera mounted in Rada’s motorcycle helmet helped the jury understand the severe nature of the crash.
Motorcycle Crash Injuries
Large verdicts in motorcycle crash claims are not unusual, mostly because of the serious injuries these accidents cause. In many situations, the medical bills alone can exceed $4 million. Some of these wounds include:
- Spine Injuries: Generally, the force of the impact propels riders off their bikes. When they land, the jarring motion alone is often enough to knock the spine out of alignment. A serious back injury is difficult to treat, and even more difficult to recover from. In fact, many spine injury victims require lifelong care, at least to some extent.
- Exsanguination: Blood loss is often the official cause of death in these situations. The force of the crash also causes internal organs to rub against each other, causing massive internal hemorrhaging. Many victims are already on the edge of hypovolemic shock and organ shutdown by the time emergency responders arrive.
- Head Injuries: Many people think the brain fits snugly inside the skull. But the skull is basically a water tank which suspends the brain in cerebrospinal fluid. During a motorcycle wreck, the brain repeatedly slams against the inside of the skull. Crash helmets cannot prevent this kind of brain damage.
Evidence, particularly video evidence, is important as well. Frequently, there is a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a Los Angeles personal injury attorney presents and the amount of damages jurors award. Video evidence could come from several sources, such as dash cams, helmet cams, nearby security cameras, and intersection red-light cameras.
First Party Liability
The negligence per se doctrine applies in many motorcycle crash claims. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) might be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate a safety law, and
- That violation substantially causes injury.
The infraction could be a penal law, such as DUI, or a simple moving violation, such as speeding or failure to yield the right-of-way. This doctrine often applies because, in many cases, first responders give one driver a ticket. This act helps insurance companies determine fault.
However, first responders do not always issue citations. Frequently, they view a car crash as a civil matter, so they do not want to get the department involved. In these situations, victim/plaintiffs can use ordinary negligence to establish liability for damages.
This theory is based on 1932’s Donoghue v. Stevenson. A woman found a dead snail at the bottom of a beer bottle. She claimed the bottler had a legal duty to sell beer bottles which were safe for human consumption, a revolutionary legal concept at the time. The court agreed and articulated the neighbor principle (“You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbor”). The neighbor principle, which was based on the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan, later became the duty of care.
Damages in a motorcycle crash claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. Depending on the evidence, most attorneys ask for three or four times the economic damages to compensate the victim/plaintiff for things like emotional distress.
Motorcycle accident victims might be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. Home and after-hours visits are available.
Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.