Aggravated liability often results in significant verdicts and settlements. A cyclist was riding a bicycle on the right-hand side of a two-lane road. At the toward an intersection there was a stop sign at that intersection. Ahead of the biker, the defendant’s tractor-trailer was traveling along the same road. As the trucker was coming to a stop at the intersection, the plaintiff approached from the behind and partially passed the tractor-trailer on the right hand side of the roadway. The plaintiff stopped his bicycle next to the tractor-trailer, between the trailer and the curb. The plaintiff was about six inches from the right side curb and about five or six feet from the side of the trailer. For several seconds, the plaintiff and the tractor-trailer were both stationary, side by side. The tractor-trailer then made a right-hand turn.
As the tractor-trailer made the turn, the trailer off-tracked and struck the plaintiff, knocked him down, and dragged him along the pavement about 50 feet. The tractor-trailer driver claimed that he activated his right-hand turn signal before making the turn. The plaintiff and the driver behind the tractor-trailer, however, did not see any turn signal. The tractor-trailer driver also claimed that the plaintiff had been in his blind spot. The driver said he had checked his side view mirrors and could not see the plaintiff. Plaintiff’s counsel developed evidence that the plaintiff was visible in the side view mirrors when plaintiff approached from the rear, when he passed along the side, when he was stopped next to the tractor-trailer, and when the tractor-trailer began to make its right-hand turn. The tractor-trailer driver also claimed that he made the right-hand turn properly. Witnesses, however, said that the trailer actually rode over the right hand curb as the turn was made. According to the Lawyers Weekly case report, the defendant also argued that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent and had assumed the risk of injury by putting himself in a position that was obviously dangerous.
The plaintiff sustained serious friction injuries (known as “road rash”) on his back and leg. He also sustained relatively minor orthopedic injuries. He was hospitalized for five weeks. Plaintiff underwent numerous painful skin grafts and other surgical procedures. He has permanent scarring on his back and legs. Retired Judge Robert Harris helped to mediate a settlement to help pay for what the trucker took from the permanently injured athlete / cyclist / biker.