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Motorcycle Accident Cases

Case Settles in Mediation for Postal Worker Killed in Motorcycle Accident

In October, 2006, the plaintiff, a 35-year-old postal worker, was killed in an automobile accident while riding his motorcycle on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen. Allegedly, a limousine driving in the opposite direction stopped and tried to make a K-turn. The limousine allegedly blocked the decedent’s lane of travel. He was unable to stop in time and crashed into the car, which was owned by a corporation out of Washington, D.C. The impact threw the decedent 25 feet over the limousine and into a telephone pole. He died at the scene.  On behalf of the decedent’s estate and the couple’s four children, the decedent’s wife, sued the limo driver and corporation claiming they were liable for wrongful death and the negligent operation of a motor vehicle.  The case was pending in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division. The case settled in 2008 for $1.4 million after mediation.  Plaintiff’s counsel sought damages for wrongful death, due to negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Low Jury Award for Back Injuries Sustained While Riding Motorcycle in Heavy Traffic

In July, 2004, plaintiff, a 27 year old supermarket produce clerk, was riding his motorcycle southbound on Route 9 in Manalapan Township in bumper-to-bumper stop-and-go traffic when he was struck from behind by an automobile driven by defendant. The impact flipped the plaintiff motorcycle rider over the handlebars and onto the roadway.  Plaintiff was taken to CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Township by ambulance, examined, treated and discharged with instructions for follow-up orthopedic care.  The plaintiff sued the driver of the vehicle, alleging negligence.  Liability was never in serious question and was ultimately stipulated immediately prior to jury selection as the ensuing trial. The controversy therefore centered on the character, scope and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, which proceeded as an expedited trial under the pertinent rules providing for the submission of expert medical reports directly into evidence without the necessity of testimony.  The plaintiff treated with a chiropractor, who was of the opinion that plaintiff had a bulging lumbar disc at L5-S1 and cervical radiculopathy at C-8, both of which were causally related to the motor vehicle accident.  The treating doctor was also of the opinion that these injuries were significant and permanent.  It was the opinion of the doctor hired by the insurance company of the car that hit the plaintiff, Dr. Jay B. Bosniak, the orthopedic surgeon who examined plaintiff on behalf of the defense, that plaintiff had suffered lumbar and cervical sprain and strain.  However, Bosniak found no evidence of disc bulge or cervical radiculopathy. He opined that whatever sequela resulted from the trauma of the accident did not rise to the level of permanency.  The case was brought in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County.  The plaintiff went to trial in 2008 and the jury determined that at least some of plaintiff’s claimed injuries were casually related to the accident and awarded him $15,000 in unspecified damages.  Allstate Insurance Co. was the insurer for the defendant.

Settlement for Motorcycle Rider who Sustains Brain Injury in Impact With Police Car

In October, 2005, plaintiff, a 38-year-old business owner, alleged that he was riding a motorcycle north on Route 555 in Franklinville when a State Trooper’s failure to adhere to traffic control devices caused the two drivers to collide. Plaintiff’s motorcycle hit the cruiser’s right front wheel, and the plaintiff went over the car’s hood. Plaintiff’s right shoulder and head hit the windshield. He sustained a brain injury.  He also sustained rib and pelvic fractures, and his spleen had to be removed because of rupture.  Plaintiff sued the trooper and the state, claiming that the trooper ignored both the sign and a blinking light controlling the intersection as he entered the roadway.  Counsel for the state disputed the extent of plaintiff’s injuries and contended that he was comparatively negligent for wearing a helmet that was not approved by the U.S. Transportation Department.  Plaintiff claimed to have residual difficulty concentrating. He is no longer capable of running the septic-tank pumping business that he owns.  The case was brought in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County.  The case settled in May, 2008 after three days into trial.  The settlement agreement was in the amount of $1.5 million. The settlement was reached after plaintiff’s counsel presented expert testimony regarding plaintiff’s medical condition and employability.

Trial Settlement for Driver Who Injured Spine When Tire Falls off Truck

In July, 2004 plaintiff, an electrician in his 50s, was driving his work van at about 5 a.m. on Interstate 287 when his van struck a tire that had fallen off a truck and was laying on the road. The truck belonged to Hall’s Fast Motor Freight of South Plainfield. He sustained a back fracture.  Plaintiff sued Hall’s under for negligent maintenance. The plaintiff’s trucking expert said that if properly maintained, a tire should not fall off of a truck.  The court granted the plaintiff’s motion for a negative inference when the defendant could not produce all inspection records for the truck in question.  Defense counsel argued that sometimes even on a well maintained automobile accidents can happen. Defense counsel argued that although records are incomplete for inspection, it does not mean inspections did not occur.  Plaintiff was unable to return to work as an electrician due to balance issues. He claimed $900,000 in future lost wages.  The insurance company for the defendant was New Jersey Manufacturers.  The case was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County.  Before this accident, plaintiff was involved in a severe motorcycle accident in 1973 that resulted in atrophied legs, and urination problems due to a spinal injury. In the 2004 accident, he sustained a fracture at T-11. He had spinal stabilization surgery, with hardware implantation. No future surgeries are foreseen, but pain issues still linger.  The parties reached a $3 million settlement on the seventh day of trial.

Settlement for Motorcycle Enthusiast who Sustains Back Injuries

In December, 2001, plaintiff, a 27-year-old meter reader, was driving for Jersey Central Power & Light. Plaintiff was stopped at a red light on Route 66 in Neptune when she was rear-ended an uninsured driver. She claimed a lower back injury.  Plaintiff sued Jersey Central for benefits pursuant to her uninsured motorist policy. She settled with three of her insurance carriers (Allstate, State Farm and ELRAC) prior to trial.  According to plaintiff, the front of the car that hit her sustained heavy body damage. The force of the crash pushed plaintiff violently forward, causing her chest to strike the steering wheel. She claimed that she was left dazed and confused.  During trial, JCP&L stipulated that the driver was 100% liable for the accident, but the defendant contested the plaintiff’s assertion that she had sustained a permanent injury as a result of the accident. The case proceeded on the issue of damages.  Following the accident, plaintiff began treating with an orthopedist and underwent physical therapy for her lower back pain and bilateral radiation into her legs.  A lumbar MRI was read as normal by a radiologist. A discogram revealed discogenic pain at L5-S1, and the plaintiff was diagnosed with internal disc derangement at L5-S1. Plaintiff underwent lumbar fusion surgery with cages and hardware at L5-S1. Her orthopedic surgeon performed the surgery by entering through the abdomen and lower back. She underwent physical therapy for three to four months and was out of work for four months.  At trial, plaintiff called two orthopedic surgery experts. Both testified that that plaintiff’s positive discogram procedure indicated discogenic pain and internal disc derangement at L5-S1, which was caused by the December 2001 accident. Both experts opined that the lumbar fusion surgery was causally related to the December 2001 motor vehicle accident, and both testified that the hardware and cages in her lumbar spine from the fusion will be there permanently.  Plaintiff testified about her physical limitations and the effect that the fusion surgery has had on her life. She testified that the lack of mobility and pain forced her to give up riding a motorcycle, which had been a frequent habit prior to the accident.  Defense counsel contended that the impact was minor and argued that the she wasn’t injured at all in the accident. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff didn’t sustain any injuries in the accident and disputed that the lumbar fusion surgery was related to the accident. Defense counsel emphasized that Plaintiff didn’t go the emergency room until the day after the accident. He argued that the plaintiff’s low back problems were the result of her classification as “morbidly obese” rather than from the accident. Defense counsel argued that the lumbar fusion surgery was not medically necessary because of the negative MRI.  Defense counsel called the plaintiff’s treating family doctor to establish that Plaintiff lodged limited complaints of pain after the lower back surgery.  In 2008 a Monmouth County, NJ returned a no-cause defense verdict on proximate cause, finding that plaintiff did not sustain any injuries causally related to the accident.

Motorcycle Rider Settlement for Fracture Injuries

In July, 2004, plaintiff, 65, was riding his motorcycle on Pemberton-Browns Mills Road in Browns Mills with his 62-year-old wife as a passenger, when he collided with a car driven by the defendant.  Both motorcycle riders sued alleging negligence. The plaintiffs claimed they were driving safely and legally when defendant driver made a left turn in front of them without signaling, leaving them with no time to avoid the collision.  The driver denied liability, claiming he was unable to see the motorcycle due to sun glare.  His insurance company was State Farm.  The case was brought in Burlington County Superior Court.  Plaintiff husband claimed to have sustained five fractured ribs and a fractured left scapula. Plaintiff passenger claimed to have sustained a crush injury to her left patella and a closed head injury, as well as back pain. The plaintiffs were seeking monetary compensation for lost income and past pain and suffering.  The parties settled before trail for $40,000 in damages for the husband motorcycle rider and $1,933.64 in damages for the passenger.

Motorcycle Rider Case Thrown Out of Court on Tort Verbal Threshold Law

In Sept., 2005, plaintiff, a 66-year-old accountant, was riding his motorcycle on Route 9 in Atlantic County when he collided with a lawn mower trailer which had fallen onto the highway from a trailer being towed by defendant driver. Plaintiff sued defendant, claiming he failed to properly secure his cargo.  Defense counsel hired by the insurance company argued the injury was not permanent and that plaintiff’s damages did not meet the verbal threshold, a New Jersey tort reform law that limits the ability of injured drivers to obtain compensation in court.  State Farm was the insurance company.  The case was filed in Atlantic County Superior Court.  Plaintiff claimed the accident resulted in a permanent injury to a tendon in his right wrist. He sought an unspecified amount for past and future pain and suffering.  In a summary judgment, Judge Steven Perskie ruled that plaintiff’s damages did not meet the verbal threshold and dismissed the case.

Arbitration Award in Left Turn Motor Vehicle vs. Motorcycle Injury Case

In August, 2004, plaintiff was driving his motorcycle in Cranford, NJ when he was struck by a Volvo driven by defendant driver. The driver was making a left turn. Plaintiff sued defendant under a motor vehicle negligence claim. The case proceeded to binding arbitration, as plaintiff also had an underinsured motorist claim. The arbitration focused on damages rather then liability.  Plaintiff suffered a Lisfranc’s fracture to his left foot, when he was thrown from the motorcycle and propelled over the hood. He had two surgeries, including the implementation of pins. He missed about six months of work as an electrician.  The central damage issue involved defendant’s prospective wage loss, due to a future arthritic condition in his foot. Plaintiff’s lawyer argued that this would make it impossible for him to work past the age of 50. Since the injured plaintiff’s vocation and training was as an electrician, plaintiff’s attorney argued that he would be unable to find equivalent work after 50.  Defense counsel argued that the foot would not degenerate in such a severe fashion so as to preclude working. Even if the foot did degenerate, plaintiff would be able to find work in an administrative or management role.  The insurance company for the defendant was Liberty Mutual.  The case was arbitrated by the American Arbitration Association.  The arbitration panel awarded plaintiff a total of $700,000.  This was all paid by the insurance companies.

Police Officer Injured in Motorcycle Crash Settles Case at Trial

In Sept., 2004, Jerry Alston, a 38-year-old Irvington motorcycle police officer, was riding on I-287 in Edison when he was hit by a car driven by Jorge Cuasquer.  Alston, who was off duty at the time of the accident, sustained back injuries and sued Cuasquer for negligent operation of a motor vehicle. The plaintiff also sued Cuasquer’s sister-in-law, Nubia Steffens, who owned the car.  According to the plaintiff, Cuasquer changed lanes from the center lane to the left lane in front him and then moved back. Alston claimed that he fell off his motorcycle while trying to maneuver his motorcycle away from the defendant’s car.  Jorge Cuasquer claimed that he did not realize he had caused the accident. He left the scene, but a motorist followed him and reported his license plate number to police.  The insurer for Jorge Cuasquer was Highpoint Insurance Co.  The case was brought in Middlesex County, NJ Superior Court.  Prior to trial, the parties reached a settlement agreement in the amount of $1.15 million, toward which Steffens’ carrier will pay its policy limits of $100,000.

Motorcycle Rider Struck from behind by Truck Settles Before Jury Trial

In May, 2004, plaintiff was traveling west on Route 24 in Millburn on his motorcycle when he was struck from behind by a truck driven by defendant driver. Plaintiff was caught under the front of the truck, which then hit a tractor-trailer. He died at the scene.  The Estate of the dead person sued the truck driver and the truck’s owner for negligence.  According to plaintiff’s counsel, the accident was a slow speed collision. The truck driver did not stop in time to avoiding hitting the decedent, whose body was wrapped around the wheel of the defendant’s truck.  The insurance company for the defendant was AIG.  The case was brought in the Essex County Superior Court.  A forensic pathologist retained by the plaintiffs’ lawyer found that the decedent suffered conscious pain and compression asphyxia for at least 30 seconds before he died. Decedent could have suffered for a period of several minutes before he died.  Three days prior to trial, the case settled with the defendants’ insurer, AIG, for $600,000. The proof that the decedent had suffered gave rise to the settlement amount given that the decedent was unemployed and had no dependents at the time of his death.  Under New Jersey’s wrongful death law, compensation that can be obtained in a death case is limited due to this tort reform law.

Knee Injury Motorcycle Case Settles

In Oct., 2005, plaintiff, 57 and self employed, was travelling on his motorcycle in Forked River when he was hit by a car.  Plaintiff sustained injuries to both knees, and he sued for negligent operation of a motor vehicle.  Plaintiff was taken to the hospital from the scene. He sustained torn anterior cruciate ligaments and menisci in both knees. Plaintiff had surgery to reconstruct the ligament in his left knee. Cox underwent physical therapy for six months after the accident, and he required the use of a cane to assist him with walking for approximately two months. According to plaintiff’s counsel, the result of the surgery was poor. Plaintiff now walks unassisted, but he has residual pain in both knees. He experiences clicking, crackling and buckling in his knees.  It was alleged that the defendant driver made an illegal U-Turn onto Route 539.  The driver was driving a four-door passenger vehicle and was cited for careless driving.  Defendant admitted fault for the accident and settled with plaintiff for $99,500 of her $100,000 GMAC policy.  Plaintiff’s counsel issued an arbitration demand to his own business automobile insurer, Selective Insurance, for underinsured motorist benefits.  Plaintiff settled with his own business automobile insurer, Selective Insurance, for an additional $132,500 in underinsured motorist benefits.  The carrier for the defendant was Selective Insurance Co. out of Trenton, NJ.

Drunk Driver Hits Motorcyclist and Cause Brain Injury

In late summer, 2005, the plaintiff was riding his motorcycle in Woodbridge, New Jersey.  While riding, plaintiff was struck by a vehicle being driven by a drunk driver.  He suffered serious brain injuries as well as a broken shoulder.  The injuries were permanent, including paralysis of one side of his face.  He remains disabled and cannot work.

Plaintiff sued the driver in Middlesex County Superior Court, alleging negligence.  Due to the circumstances of the accident, the defendant’s insurer, New Jersey Manufacturer’s Ins. Co. settled the case for $500,000, the policy limits.

Late Turn Causes Motorcycle Collision, Motorcyclist 35% Responsible

In the summer of 2003, the plaintiff was riding his motorcycle in Evesham Township, New Jersey.  As he navigated through a blind curve, the car ahead of him decided to make a last second left hand turn.  Plaintiff hit the brakes and tried to avoid a collision, but was unable to do so.  He collided with the driver’s side of defendant’s car, ejecting the plaintiff from his motorcycle.  The crash resulted in a compound fracture of plaintiff’s leg.  He missed approximately 10 weeks of work, and is left with one leg shorter than the other.

Plaintiff sued the defendant in Camden County Superior Court, alleging that the driver was negligent.  Defendant denied that he was responsible for the accident, instead claiming that it was the plaintiff’s lack of control of his motorcycle which caused the crash.  The jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and awarded $327,000.  This award was reduced, however, as the jury found that plaintiff was 35% responsible for the accident.  Plaintiff received $212,000.

SUV Driver Fails to Keep Proper Lookout and Collides with Motorcycle

In March of 2004, plaintiff, a youth in his 20′s, was riding his motorcycle in West Orange when he was struck by an SUV driven by defendant.  Defendant was pulling out of a gas station at the time of the accident and didn’t see the motorcycle.

Plaintiff was seriously injured in the accident, fracturing his leg and foot, in addition to injuring his knee. He has a permanent limp.  These injuries required several surgeries to repair and caused the young man to miss a year and a half of work.  He filed suit against the driver of the SUV, claiming that she was negligent in her operation of the vehicle and failed to keep a proper lookout and that that negligence resulted in the collision.  The defendant’s insurance carrier, Palisades Insurance Company, paid the full policy limit of $500,000, and the case settled for that amount.

County Fails to Maintain Road, Pothole Causes Motorcycle Crash

In June of 2001, a college student in his 20′s was riding his motorcycle on Woodstown Road in Gloucester County.  The road was poorly maintained, and plaintiff hit a pothole, causing him to lose control of the motorcycle and crash.  The injuries plaintiff suffered were catastrophic.  He lost his leg, and underwent multiple surgeries.  He is left without bowel control or sexual function, and has not been able to use a prosthesis due to the nature of the injury, thus he is wheelchair bound.  He has not been able to return to school.

Plaintiff sued Gloucester County for the accident, claiming that they were liable for not patching the pothole.  Evidence put forth at mediation showed that the road condition was so deteriorated that an angry homeowner put a sign on her lawn demanding that it be fixed.  Defendant denied liability and claimed that plaintiff was responsible for the accident, and that they were immune from prosecution under the governmental immunity defense of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act.  The judge denied this defense, and the case was settled in mediation for $1.75 million.

Negligent Operation of a Vehicle Results in Degloving Injury for Plaintiff

In May of 2004, the plaintiff was on his motorcycle, exiting off of Route 495 onto Route 3 in Bergen, New Jersey.  He was hit by defendant’s BMW, causing the motorcycle to wreck and causing serious and permanent injuries to the plaintiff.  His left hand was “degloved” and injury where the skin is torn free from the underlying flesh.  His leg was crushed, and he also injured his shoulder.  The hand injury required multiple surgeries, and left him with significant scarring and a limited use of the hand.  He will require surgeries in the future to repair these injuries.

Plaintiff sued the defendant in Essex County Superior Court, claiming that the defendant operated his motor vehicle in a negligent manner and cut him off, causing the accident.  Defendant denied liability, arguing that the plaintiff should have exercised more caution to avoid the collision.  As the case readied for trial, the parties mutually agreed to a settlement in the amount of $1,000,000.

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