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ARTICLE ID 158693

$________ - FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT - MOTOR VEHICLE NEGLIGENCE - AUTO/MOTORCYCLE COLLISION - FAILURE OF U.S. CENSUS TAKER TO STOP AT STOP SIGN - SEVERE LEG INJURIES - BELOW-THE-KNEE AMPUTATION - DENTAL INJURIES - MULTIPLE SOFT TISSUE INJURIES.

U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

This action was brought against the United States of America under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The plaintiff alleged that a census-taker employed by the defendant failed to stop for a stop sign and collided with the plaintiff’s motorcycle. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent in causing the collision.

The plaintiff was a man in his 30s at the time of the accident. He was riding a motorcycle which was allegedly reported stolen. The plaintiff was not wearing a motorcycle helmet at the time of the accident and was not legally required to do so. The plaintiff testified that the defendant’s employee drove through a stop sign, violated his right-of-way and he was unable to avoid colliding with the vehicle. Evidence showed that the plaintiff landed some 50 feet from the point of impact.

The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert opined that there was nothing that the plaintiff could have done to avoid the collision after the defendant’s census-taker drove into the intersection directly in the path of his oncoming motorcycle. The plaintiff sustained a severe leg injury as a result of the accident which led to an almost immediate below-knee amputation. The plaintiff also claimed a head injury, loss of teeth, and multiple soft tissue injuries stemming from the collision.

The plaintiff was employed as a house painter at the time of the accident. He contended that he was unable to return to that profession and he has remained unemployed since the date of the accident. The plaintiff took the position that he could ultimately return to work in a sedentary capacity after he learns to cope with his injury and his leg prosthesis.

The defendant’s accident reconstruction expert contended that the plaintiff was traveling in excess of 50 mph in a 30 mph speed zone at the time of the accident. This expert opined that the accident resulted from the plaintiff’s excessive speed and that, had the plaintiff been traveling within the legal speed limit, he could have avoided the collision. A witness stated that he saw a motorcycle, similar to the plaintiff’s motorcycle, racing down the road shortly before the accident. The plaintiff denied that the witness was referring to his motorcycle.

The plaintiff’s preliminary medical screening tests taken at the hospital following the accident were positive for alcohol at an unspecified level. The defense argued that the plaintiff’s consumption of alcohol was also a factor in causing the collision. The defendant additionally raised the issue of comparative negligence regarding the plaintiff’s failure to wear a helmet, which the defendant claimed would have prevented the plaintiff’s head injury, as well as his loss of teeth.

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