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U.S.D.C. - Middle District of Pennsylvania

The plaintiff was a 49-year-old bank executive from Tennessee who was on a motorcycle tour of Central Pennsylvania with friends in June of ________ when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident which resulted in the loss of his leg. The defendants in the case included the driver of the vehicle which struck the plaintiff’s motorcycle head-on, as well as the construction company which was performing road work in the area. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant driver was negligent in entering the opposing lane of travel and striking the plaintiff’s motorcycle and that the defendant construction company failed to safely reopen the road in the construction zone. The defendant driver claimed that he swerved into the oncoming traffic to avoid a non-party vehicle which stopped unexpectedly in front of him. The non-party driver claimed she stopped after a construction vehicle pulled out onto the highway in front her from a farmer’s lane. The defendant construction company maintained that the collision resulted solely from the negligence of the defendant driver.

The plaintiff was riding a motorcycle in formation with his friends on a two-lane road (one lane in each direction) through Perry County, Pennsylvania when the defendant driver’s car crossed the double yellow line from the opposite direction and struck his motorcycle head-on. The plaintiff alleged that the collision occurred in an active construction work zone, as defined by applicable regulations authored by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and that the defendant driver was attempting to avoid a traffic slowdown caused by the defendant construction company’s activities. The plaintiff claimed that by pulling out into a blind spot at the base of a large hill in the road, the construction company created a hazard in an area with significantly restricted site distance.

The plaintiff alleged that the need for the non-party driver to stop emergently was created because the defendant construction company had violated PennDOT standards in the manner in which it reopened the road. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant construction company should have left all construction signs in place until after the cones and flagmen were removed. However, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant removed the signs in the direction of the defendant driver, removed the flagman and was still picking up cones when the collision occurred. The plaintiff maintained that the construction warning signs, which had been placed every ________ feet for ________ feet ahead of the hill where the accident had taken place, had been prematurely removed by the defendant, thereby affording no warning to oncoming motorists, including the defendant driver, of the construction activities and creating a safety hazard.

The plaintiff sustained a crush injury to his left leg resulting in a below-knee amputation. He now wears a below-knee prosthesis as a result of his injury and has been advised that an above-knee, or full leg amputation, may be necessary in the future. The plaintiff also suffered vertebral fractures at the lumbar and thoracic levels, as well as a neck fracture. The vertebral and neck fractures forced the plaintiff to wear an Ilizarov brace for several months following the accident. The plaintiff also complained of serious ongoing and chronic pain, including severe lower back pain and phantom pain, as well as a general limitation of movement.

The plaintiff returned to his employment as a vice president of a bank in Tennessee three months after the accident, but alleged that his work life expectancy had been shortened. His treating physician testified that plaintiff cannot be expected to work in his current position for more than five to six additional years.

The plaintiff’s wife also asserted a loss of consortium claim. She testified that she was disabled due to a preexisting back condition and had been forced to go from receiving care from her husband to being his caregiver. She also testified that her husband formerly performed many of the day-to-day household chores.

The defendant construction company maintained that the construction project had been completed and that the road was properly opened according to PennDOT regulations. The defendant argued that there were other warning signs in the area, including a “hidden drive” sign and signs depicting tractors entering the road. The defendant’s truck driver testified that he pulled onto the road without incident and was approximately a quarter mile away when the collision occurred. The defense also argued that the plaintiff had made a good recovery, had returned to work and could work indefinitely into the future.The jury found the defendant construction company 65% negligent and the defendant driver 35% negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages. The award included $________ in pain and suffering to the plaintiff; $________ to the plaintiff’s wife for her loss of consortium claim and the remainder in economic damages.

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