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Motor Vehicle Negligence - Auto/motorcycle accident - plaintiffs motorcycle operator and passenger claim accident caused by negligence of defendant automobile operator - bifurcated action - trial on liability only.


This motor vehicle negligence action was brought by the male plaintiffs, age 15 at the time of the subject accident, against the defendant automobile operator. The case was bifurcated on the issues of liability and damages.

The subject accident occurred on November 6, ________, as the two male plaintiffs were riding the motorcycle at night. The evidence indicated that the plaintiffs were traveling in a 35 mph speed zone. The evidence revealed that the defendant’s automobile pulled onto the roadway ahead of the plaintiff’s at an approximate speed of 10 miles per hour. The plaintiffs started to pass the defendant on the left at an intersection where the defendant attempted a left turn, resulting p 7 3 in the plaintiffs’ motorcycle striking the defendant’s automobile broadside. The plaintiffs contended that they were traveling at the speed limit of 35 miles per hour when the defendant pulled out into the main road from a side road in front of the plaintiffs at an angle towards the intersection with no left turn signal. The plaintiff motorcycle operator suffered a fractured ankle. The plaintiff motorcycle passenger sustained a severely fractured leg requiring three surgeries over a two year period resulting in a below-the-knee amputation of the leg.

The defense argued that the plaintiffs were on a joint venture joy ride, were inattentive and were speeding. The defendant maintained that the plaintiffs were traveling at approximately 45 miles per hour in the 35 mph zone. The defendant further asserted that the plaintiffs carried out an unlawful passing maneuver within ________ feet of an intersection, failed to reduce their speed and failed to properly adjust to the defendant’s entry onto the road. The defendant offered its $________ policy limit to the plaintiff passenger only. The plaintiffs waived a jury trial. The Court found that the defendant had failed to properly activate his turn signal, but that this was not a substantial factor contributing the accident. The Court further found that the plaintiff motorcycle operator’s negligence was a substantial factor contributing to the accident. Accordingly, judgment was entered against both plaintiffs and for the defendant on his cross- complaint for property damage.

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