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Motorcycle Accident Jury Verdict Against Caltrans

PARRIS obtained a $31.5 million motorcycle accident verdict against Caltrans for a 65-year old man severely injured after being hit by a car while riding his motorcycle. Our client was a career prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and had worked at the DA’s office for 30 years.

He was riding his motorcycle eastbound towards Hesperia on Highway 138, approaching Mountain Road, when a car made a left turn from westbound State Road 138 directly in front of his motorcycle.

This was a dangerous intersection because it required a left turn of 129 degrees instead of the conventional 90-degree angle of most intersections. Caltrans labels this type of intersection as a “skewed” intersection, but took no steps to protect against the dangerous condition, even though ten previous accidents had occurred at the same location. These previous accidents put Caltrans on notice of this dangerous intersection prior to our client’s motorcycle accident.

Our client was fault-free in the operation of his motorcycle, and was traveling safely within the speed limit. He suffered a catastrophic brain injury, became ventilator-dependent, had to be fed by a G-tube, became incontinent, and was mostly unable to speak. Unfortunately, his injuries were so catastrophic that he will require 24-hour nursing care for the rest of his life.

The insurance policy limit in the case was $15,000. The insurance company acted in bad faith by failing to protect its insured and timely accept settlement offers, which opened the policy. The insurance company settled out of the case for $15,000,000 before trial. This case also involved a loss of consortium claim on behalf of the victim’s wife against Caltrans.

At trial, Caltrans was found to be at fault for creating this dangerous skewed intersection which could have been easily and inexpensively remedied with plastic pylons on the centerline, or a raised concrete island. A jury rendered a verdict for our client in the amount of $31.5 million.

This was a very difficult, dangerous roadway case. The recovery obtained for our client will provide him with the lifelong medical care and resources that he and his wife need to begin their recovery after this catastrophic motorcycle accident.

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