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Brevard County

The male plaintiff, a 45-year-old at the time of injury, contended that the defendant automobile driver negligently struck him as he was riding his bicycle on U.S. 1 in Melbourne. The plaintiff, who suffered from pre-existing brain damage, claimed to have sustained additional brain damage as a result of the accident. The trial judge directed a verdict on the issue of permanency. The defendant maintained that the accident was caused by the plaintiff’s own negligence in riding his bicycle during the pre-dawn hours without lights, against traffic and while wearing dark clothing.

The plaintiff claimed to have no recollection of the accident nor the events leading to it and did not testify at trial. Evidence showed that the plaintiff was dressed in dark clothing and was riding his bicycle northbound on the southbound side, against the flow of traffic on U.S. 1 in Melbourne at approximately 6:00 a.m.

on March 30, ________. Sunrise on that day was at approximately 6:18 a.m. according to evidence offered. The plaintiff was en-route to a labor pool where he was employed as a temporary day laborer.

The plaintiff’s bicycle was not equipped with lights, but did have reflectors on the front, pedals and spokes. The defendant was driving southbound in the right lane of U.S. 1 and was making p 7 3 a right turn onto a connecting road when her car struck the plaintiff as he crossed the road, causing the plaintiff to strike the windshield of the defendant’s car. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert opined that the defendant should have been able to see the plaintiff as he rode through the intersection in time to avoid the collision.

The plaintiff’s neurosurgeon and neuropsychologist each testified that the plaintiff sustained a compressed, compound, comminuted skull fracture in the accident. The plaintiff underwent brain surgery which was required to remove bone fragments from his brain. The plaintiff’s physicians testified that the plaintiff had significant pre-existing brain damage to his left frontal brain, the cause of which was not specifically known. The plaintiff contended that his mental impairment was dramatically worsened as a result of the accident. CT scans showed damage to areas of the brain which were not previously damaged, according to the plaintiff’s experts.

At the time of injury, the plaintiff resided independently. He alleged that following the accident, he was forced to move in with family members who cared for him. The plaintiff’s vocational/life care expert testified that the plaintiff will require a caretaker for at least eight hours per day while his family is at work. The plaintiff is also totally, permanently disabled from employment, according to his vocational expert. The plaintiff’s economist estimated the plaintiff’s total economic loss as $________.

The defendant driver had been diagnosed with advanced cataracts in both eyes 21 days prior to the accident. The plaintiff’s expert ophthalmologists testified that the vision of a person with the defendant’s cataract condition would have been impaired as a result of the cataracts. The defendant driver testified that the cataracts affected her vision to some extent on the morning of the accident, but she did not believe that it affected her ability to see the bicyclist. The defendant alleged that her vision was corrected with glasses which she was wearing at the time of the accident and that her ophthalmologist had not restricted her driving.

The defendant testified that she did not see the plaintiff prior to the impact. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was riding against traffic and did not have a headlight on his bicycle which are violations of Florida law. The defense maintained that the accident was caused by the plaintiff’s own negligence and that his presence would not have been anticipated by the defendant.

The defense also contended that the plaintiff’s impairments and deficiencies were primarily the result of his prior brain damage and alleged cocaine use prior to the accident and were not related to the subject collision.

The jury found the defendant 50% negligent and the plaintiff 50% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ which was reduced accordingly. The award included $________ in past medical expenses and lost wages and $________ in future medical expenses and lost wages. The jury chose not to award damages for pain and suffering. The defendant’s Motion for a new trial and the plaintiff’s motion for costs and attorney fees pursuant to a Demand for Judgment in the amount of $________ are p 7 3 pending.

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