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Permanently Injured Bicyclist Awarded Verdict for $38 Million

Car versus bicycle accidents are often some of the most dangerous motor vehicle accidents out there. Even when a bicyclist wears proper safety gear, such as a helmet and pads, nearly all of his or her body is left exposed. When hit by a moving car or truck, the trauma from that impact can cause permanent and catastrophic results, even if the car is only traveling a few miles per hour. This type of accident happened in 2012 in Seattle, Washington. In December 2016, the case went to trial, and the jury awarded $38 million in damages.

In this wreck, the victim, 51 years old, was riding a bicycle in a marked bicycle lane down a one-way street. He was going home from work when a valet driver cut across two lanes in the middle of the street and struck the bicyclist from the side. The valet driver received a citation for failure to yield the right of way. As a result of the crash, the victim sustained a traumatic brain injury and a broken hip, among other injuries, requiring extensive medical treatment. He incurred over $427,000 of medical bills and is expected to need multiple surgeries in the future. Due to the broken hip, his mobility has been significantly limited. For example, he must use crutches to even be able to walk short distances.

This lawsuit brought claims against the valet driver and his employer, Standard Parking, which is part of a national publicly traded company that manages parking garages and provides valet car service. When the accident occurred, the valet driver was in the process of returning a car to a customer at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.  The claims asserted against the company include unsafe practices and inadequate training. Testimony throughout the case revealed the valet driver (like many of the other company drivers) had cut through a parking lot, drove through an alley, and then drove across the middle of the street to take cars to and from the vehicle owners at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. According to the victim’s attorneys, the driver took an illegal shortcut to save time while he should have driven around the block through normal traffic to be safe, regardless of how much more time it would have taken.

In Tennessee, when a person is struck by a corporate or commercial vehicle, the victim may be able to assert claims against the employee and employer. If the driver was acting within the course and scope of his employment, the company is typically vicariously liable for the employee’s negligence. The victim may have direct claims against the employer, including negligent hiring and negligent training. One way to succeed on a claim for negligent hiring in a truck accident case could be to show that an employer knew the employee was not fit for the job.  Fitness could be revealed by performing due diligence during the hiring process or conducting thorough background checks. To prove inadequate training, it is often necessary to retain experts within that company’s industry. Qualified experts can testify as to accepted industry standards and best practices. They can also review training manuals and programs to testify if appropriate measures were taken.

Experts are also critical for proving an injured victim’s damages, as traumatic brain injuries and broken bones are complex and vary among victims. These types of injuries can change the way a person thinks, acts, feels and reacts to ordinary and everyday experiences. If you or a loved one has been hit by a car while riding a bicycle, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz for a free initial consultation on your case.