Real Life Case: Judgment Rendered against Driver


Even the best drivers are still at risk of being in an auto accident, and this is especially true for people who drive smaller vehicles or motorcycles. These types of vehicles do not have the same weight or protections as larger ones do, and they are also more difficult for other motorists to see. It is easy for an auto accident’s resulting damages to cost millions of dollars. The following is an example of a case where the driver faced a hefty judgment despite being found only 50 percent at fault.

The plaintiff in this case was a motorcyclist who claimed that the defendant’s negligent move of trying to pass him while making a left turn was the reason they collided. The motorcyclist sustained spinal cord injuries, which left him with no feeling in his feet. He also lost control of his bladder and bowels after the accident. However, the road was about 25 feet wide, and there were no marked lines other than the double yellow ones.

The plaintiff claimed that the driver had approached him and slowed, sped up and slowed again without activating his turn signal. He claimed he tried to pass the defendant, and then the defendant made a left turn toward a driveway. In addition to this, he said the driver tried to speed up and veer away. However, the maneuver was not enough to stop a collision. The defendant disagreed with the plaintiff’s statements and said that he had slowed and activated his turn signal in advance. An eyewitness at the scene who was behind the defendant said she agreed with the defendant’s statements. Ultimately, she agreed that the accident was due to the plaintiff’s negligence.

After the accident, the plaintiff became an incomplete paraplegic. He was only able to walk on the heels of his feet and could not make it further than one block at a time without a cane. His rehabilitative specialist said that the condition would result in permanent loss of bladder and bowel functions as well as a loss of sensation in the feet. The plaintiff’s doctor said he would also suffer permanent sexual dysfunction. In addition to this, the plaintiff had to sell his home and move to a much less expensive one. He also said his family was struggling following his accident.

The motorcyclist had worked as a mechanic prior to his injuries, and had been offered an extra $500 per week from his employer at about that time. His employer agreed with this statement. The plaintiff said he would be able to use the computer skills he had due to not having a high school diploma, so he wanted to obtain one. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was not covered by PIP. His medical bills were about $90,000, but his attorney estimated future care costs and damage awards into the millions. Ultimately, the judge found the defendant 50 percent liable, which resulted in a $3.3million award for the plaintiff. In addition to this, $20,000 was awarded to the plaintiff’s wife.

Many people worry about accidents happening and not having enough auto insurance to cover the damages. In cases such as this, people who do not have an umbrella policy would have to sell their possessions or have their wages garnished for a long time to pay for the damages. Some may also file bankruptcy if they qualify, but it will ruin their credit for at least seven years or more. This is why every person should discuss all of these issues with their agents to ensure they are properly covered.

If you have any questions or would like to review your policies to be sure you are adequately protected, please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.


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