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AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES
Motorcycle and car crash
AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES
Motorcycle and car crash
Ms. Roquemore (age 62) was the passenger on her boyfriend’s motorcycle when a car cut them off. Her boyfriend, Mr. Robinson, slammed on his brakes to avoid striking the merging car. According to the investigating officer, Robinson stated that the car swerved suddenly in front of him with a separation of about 20-25 feet. According to Ms. Roquemore the distance was approximately one car length. Neither Roquemore nor Robinson could describe the car and the driver was never found. Just prior to the accident, Robinson was traveling in the left lane at 45 m.p.h.
As a result of braking hard, Robinson lost control of his motorcycle and Ms. Roquemore was thrown off the motorcycle and found herself lying in the road on her side.
Roquemore was taken by ambulance to the emergency room where she was treated and released. CT Scan of her head was negative but Roquemore testified she hit her head and that her helmet was scratched where it had impacted the roadway. All x-rays were negative. Although she had complained of left ankle pain, the ER failed to x-ray her left ankle. Roquemore returned to the ER within a week and was treated for lower left leg pain but no further treatment of her ankle was provided until nearly a year after the accident when she was seen by Dr. Bonini. An MRI of her ankle disclosed a possible talar dome fracture along with degenerative changes. Surgery was performed in September, 2013. Plaintiff claimed a multitude of injuries but at trial the Plaintiff proved $43,000 in medical bills.
Prior to the lawsuit being filed Robinson died of unrelated causes so a personal representative was appointed.
Plaintiff compelled the production of the GEICO investigator’s voice recording of Mr. Robinson the morning after the accident along with a copy of the transcript. Excerpts of the transcripts were read to the jury. Over Plaintiff’s objection, Judge Weimer excluded Mr. Robinson’s voice recording of how the accident occurred as prejudicial due to Robinson’s slurred speech. [Robinson had been injured and was prescribed pain medication in the ER the night before].
Also over Plaintiff’s objection, Judge Weimer excluded Robinson’s apology to Ms. Roquemore for the accident at the ER.
Investigator Dearborn testified that the Plaintiff told him in the ER that although she saw the car in front of Robinson’s motorcycle just before the accident, she did not know where the car came from. This contradicted her in-court testimony.
Plaintiff produced Dr. David, an internist via video deposition to introduce medical bills and relate her injuries to the accident. Dr. David established head injury [concussion], talar dome fracture and pre-existing hip bursistis as related to the motorcycle accident. Dr. Bonini confirmed that he treated Ms. Roquemore for a talar dome fracture and that during surgery he found that the talar dome was fractured and ligaments were torn. He described for the jury the mechanism of the injury.
The defense offered a local and well-respected orthopedic surgeon who agreed that the ER visits were related to the motorcycle accident but that Roquemore should have recovered in 4-6 weeks. He related the damage to her ankle to an old surgery on her left ankle to remove a tumor. On cross-examination however, he admitted that Ms. Roquemore’s primary care physician had noted lower left leg swelling and bruising 5 weeks post accident.
Plaintiff also called Mr. Theriault, a motorcycle safety expert. Judge Weimer granted the defense motion to exclude certain evidence offered by Theriault on the grounds that it was accident reconstruction, but allowed Theriault to testify as to how a motorcyclist should safely apply the brakes while negotiating a curve in an emergency situation.
Investigator Dearborn of the Prince William police provided photographs that showed the roadway was curving where the motorcycle accident occurred. The photographs introduced into evidence also showed skid marks and deep groves in the asphalt where the motorcycle had crashed and skidded down the road.
Ms. Roquemore who had never driven a motorcycle could only testify that she felt the bike braking and then fishtailing out of control before she was thrown from the bike.
At the conclusion of Plaintiff’s evidence, Judge Weimer granted the personal representative’s (Robinson’s) motion to strike over Plaintiff’s objection stating that there was insufficient evidence to prove negligence on Robinson’s part. He denied John Doe’s motion to strike and the case went to the jury against John Doe only.
Defense argued that Plaintiff’s inconsistent statements as to the John Doe vehicle was indicative of a plan by Mr. Robinson and her to make up the John Doe vehicle as a reason that the accident occurred. Likewise, the Defense argued that the lack of treatment in the ER, and the long delay and spotty treatment for the ankle, supported its theory that Dr. Bonini’s treatment was related to arthritic changes caused by the prior tumor surgery.
Plaintiff argued that the evidence was overwhelming that John Doe caused the accident. Plaintiff also argued that her injuries were consistent with a talar dome fracture which often does not present until the bone has slowly died due to a compression or crushing injury. Talar dome injuries are caused when the affected area’s blood flow is constricted due to compression. Lack of blood flow causes necrosis of the talar joint.
The jury returned both verdict forms signed by the Foreman. One awarded the Plaintiff $290,000, the other awarded a defense verdict. The case settled during recess while counsel and Judge Weimer were discussing how to instruct the jury on its illegal verdicts. Following the settlement, the jury stayed behind and confirmed that it had intended its verdict to be rendered for the Plaintiff in the amount of $290,000. The Foreman was unaware of his error in signing both verdict forms. Jury members disclosed that they had debated a range of $100,000-600,000 in possible damages but compromised on $290,000.
GEICO’s initial offer of $8,000 and final offer a week before trial of $20,000 was rejected out of hand by Plaintiff thereby necessitating the trial. During closing arguments, Plaintiff’s counsel argued “Rules of the Road” and the defense accepting responsibility for John Doe’s negligence.