Holidays are over, time for the first post of 2009…
I haven’t included many posts related to my own cases of late. Here’s a summary of a case that recently reached a very favorable conclusion.
Client comes to me saying he was struck by a car while crossing the street on his bicycle. Due to the impact, he suffered a fracture of his leg, and a couple of painful surgeries. Actually, there was a little more to the story[there always is]. He was riding his bike in the middle of a busy, but poorly-lit Riverdale street in early April. I had some concerns about the liability aspect of the case so I got the Police Report. The Report was a combination of good and bad facts. The diagram showed my client smack dab in the middle of the road at the time of impact. Bad fact. And it was dark. Another bad fact. And, the report indicated an absence of any reflectors on my client’s expensive Bianchi bike. Again, not helpful.
But the report also indicated that the defendant driver left lengthy skid marks after impact. And the force of the collision threw my client[6’2″ tall and about 180 pounds]a long, long way from the point of impact. Those facts suggested that either the defendant never saw my client until after impact, and/or was going well in excess of the posted speed limit. Finally, the bike had been preserved and an inspection did show a couple of reflectors still intact. Perhaps there was some hope.
The collision had taken place just west of the Riverdale Police Department, right before a shift change. The Police Report indicated several officers had seen my client prior to the collision on their way into the station. And they confirmed they had seen him in their depositions. Casually riding right in the middle of the street. Nowhere near the right side of the road, as required by Section 5/11-1505 of the Illinois Vehicle Code. Ouch.
But then we took the defendant’s depo. And in the course of two hours, he offered at least 3 versions of the event. At one point he denied ever making contact with the bike rider. He was, to be charitable, not particularly credible.
The parties agreed to have a binding arbitration at ADR. The judge who presided, a veteran trial lawyer and former judge, was not impressed with the testimony of the defendant. I argued that the location of the plaintiff and his alleged lack of reflectors was ultimately irrelevant, as the defendant never saw him until impact. The judge agreed and entered a gross award of $181,000.