Motorcycle Driver Recovers $2M in a Motor Vehicle Negligence Case

September 23, 2016 by

A 50-year-old man was operating a motorcycle with a passenger on the back when he was struck nearly head-on by a tractor trailer. Traffic in the area was moving slowly due to smoke from a wildfire in the area. The motorcycle driver claimed that the truck tried to pass the slow traffic by entering the opposing lane of traffic over a double yellow line. The motorcycle driver said that the truck driver did not see him, prior to impact, when the truck’s left front bumper contacted the motorcycle.

The motorcycle driver received compound fractures to his right leg, shoulder and wrist. He had multiple surgeries, totaling over $600,000. He asserted that the injuries sustained prevented him from returning to his prior work as a painter. Further, they rendered him completely unemployable.

The passenger on the back of the motorcycle died as a result of his injuries. His family brought a separate action against the defendants for wrongful death. According to, a wrongful death case is, “When a person or entity negligently or intentionally causes the death of another person, the party that caused the death may be liable under a wrongful death claim for financial losses that result from the death. Usually, a personal representative of the decedent’s estate will sue and any recovery will be placed in the estate and distributed according to the terms of the estate.” A person can sue in a wrongful death case for pecuniary losses, which are the actual monetary losses caused by the loss of wages and future earnings, medical and funeral expenses. Also, a person can sue for compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering.

The five defendants in the case were the owner of the tractor, the owner of the trailer, the principals of each company, and the driver of the rig. They argued that the collision took place in the center area of the roadway, a claim that was refuted by police investigators. The insurance company denied all coverage claims. The defendants hired counsel, who withdrew from the case prior to trial. The defendants appeared in court without the representation of a lawyer.

In the United States, you have the right to represent yourself. According to the Family Law Pro Se Project, “…choosing to represent yourself means that the Court will expect you to follow the same rules and procedures that any attorney must follow. The Judge in your case may not do anything to give any appearance of being partial to either side and this includes giving legal advice and having contact with either party without the other being present. Generally, when you go into court, the Judge will give you much information about what may be wrong with whatever pleadings you filed. Listen carefully; if you do not understand what is being said at the time, you can take that information and see an attorney afterwards to get a better understanding of what was said.”

The defendants were in default at the time of trial and the case was heard as an assessment of damages only.

The jury awarded the plaintiff $2,000,000 in damages.

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