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$________ GROSS Motor vehicle negligence - auto/bicycle collision - allegedly inattentive and intoxicated driver hits plaintiff bicyclist - severe fracture to lower left leg.


This action arose out of an automobile/bicycle collision that resulted in the plaintiff bicyclist sustaining a severe fracture to the lower left leg. The plaintiff contended that the defendant driver’s negligent operation of his vehicle was the proximate cause of the subject accident. The plaintiff asserted that the defendant was inattentive and operating his vehicle while intoxicated.

The evidence indicated that the plaintiff, with a .06 blood alcohol level, was riding his bicycle without a light or reflectors at 10:50 p.m. down a 12 percent grade when the 18- year-old defendant with a .12 blood alcohol level, traveling in the opposite direction, made a left hand turn, allegedly violating the bicycle rider’s right-of-way. While there was a street light at the intersection on the northwest and southeast corners, the defendant’s lighting experts argued that the lighting was such that even a sober driver could not have seen the bike rider who was wearing dark clothing and who was coming out of the darkness. The defendant driver left the scene of the accident for anywhere from eight to ten minutes after the impact occurred and this evidence was admitted to show consciousness of guilt.

Two witnesses at the scene gave testimony that the defendant driver did not have his lights activated and another witness testified that a bike rider could be seen at least ________ yards up the hill. The plaintiff’s traffic reconstruction expert indicated that the plaintiff was traveling approximately 25 miles per hour and could have been seen in time for the defendant driver to stop. The plaintiff had retrograde amnesia and could offer no testimony as to how the accident occurred.

The medical testimony indicated that the plaintiff sustained a fracture to the right knee and a severe fracture to the lower left leg requiring an open reduction and internal fixation.

Because on increase problems with the knee and the lower left leg in the years following the accident, both orthopedic doctors, including the defendant’s expert testified that the plaintiff will need fusion surgery on the left leg and a right knee replacement. Additionally, the plaintiff suffered a ruptured spleen requiring a splenectomy, a collapsed lung, and numerous contusions, abrasions and scars. The plaintiff also sustained severe trauma to his head and both of his neuropsychologists testified that the plaintiff suffered a memory deficit as a result of the trauma. The plaintiff’s orthopedist testified that the combined effect of the injuries totally disabled him from working as a mechanic. All of the doctors testified that the plaintiff was very motivated and honest. The evidence indicated that the plaintiff had suffered a fracture in almost the same area on the lower left leg in ________, and a fracture in almost the same location of the right knee in ________, resulting in pins being inserted in the knee, both injuries having occurred in motorcycle accidents.

The defendant contended that he never saw the plaintiff until the impact. The defendant’s bicycle riding expert testified, based upon the location of the plaintiff’s body from the point of impact, that the plaintiff was traveling at the excessive speed of 35 miles per hour at the time of the accident and could not be seen. Photographs were offered into evidence which, according to the defendant’s photography expert, accurately depicted the lighting conditions on the night of the accident and showed the area to be dark. The plaintiff’s traffic reconstruction expert testified that the alcohol which the plaintiff had consumed would have impaired his judgment, and in his capacity as a human factors expert, this witness testified that the defendant would have been looking to the left as he made the turn and would not have expected bicyclist to be coming down the hill. The jury found for the plaintiff and returned a verdict of $________, which was reduced by 30% in accordance with the jury’s finding of comparative negligence on the part of the plaintiff.

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