Negligence: Motor Vehicle/Bicycle Head Injury - $375,000 Settlement

Type of Action:- Tort-Bicycle/ motor vehicle collision/closed head injury

Type of injuries:- Closed heaType of Action:- Tort-Bicycle/ motor vehicle collision/closed head injury

Type of injuries:- Closed head injury. Fractured skull. Broken clavicle.

Court/Case #:- Middlesex County, C.A. No. 81-3779

Judge or Jury:- Not applicable

Name of Judge:- Not applicable

Special Damages:. Medical bills $12,952.75

Damages Awarded or Settled:- Settled two days before trial.

Amount:- $375.000.00

Attorney for Plaintiff:- Kenneth I. Kolpan, Boston, Massachusetts

Name of Case:- Name of Case withheld by Agreement of the Parties

Insurance Carrier:- Self-insured

Highest Offer:- $375,000.00

Other Useful Info:- On June 18, 1981, minor plaintiff was riding her bicycle on Nonantum Road, Brighton, Massachusetts in an easterly direction when she was struck from behind by the defendant's truck. The minor plaintiff was knocked off her bicycle and dragged underneath the defendants' vehicle. She lost consciousness and was admitted to a local hospital in a confused and combative state. She suffered a fractured skull, fractured right clavicle and was noted to have edema around her brain. The plaintiff spent 2 weeks in the hospital and returned to school the following September.

The defendants contended that the 14 year old minor plaintiff was riding her bicycle in the lane nearest to the curb and, suddenly without warning, crossed in front of the defendants' truck which had also moved in the lane closest to the center line. The defendant driver stated that he did his best to avoid hitting the young girl by centering his truck so that the truck's wheels would not crush her. The minor plaintiff had no memory of the accident or of events hours before and weeks after the accident due to her brain injury, a phenomenon known as anterograde and retrograde amnesia.  Though plaintiff was combative and speaking after the collision, she was amnesic for the time period.

The defendant pleaded responsible to the complaint of failure to slow down while approaching a bicyclist and was fined $25.00.  However, under Massachusetts law, the defendant operator’s plea to a moving violation was not admissible in the civil lawsuit.

During discovery, the plaintiff's counsel, a Boston brain injury lawyer, obtained admissions from the defendants that the its truck was traveling on a what was known as a Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) road in violation of M.D.C. rules prohibiting commercial vehicles; and the defendant company had allowed its vehicles on the M.D.C. road even though it was aware of it was a violation of the law.

Witnesses to the accident contradicted the defendants' assertions regarding the plaintiff’s path of travel, testifying that the minor plaintiff was traveling straight in an easterly direction in the passing lane and not cutting across the road. A witness also testified in deposition that the truck was traveling nearly 50 miles per hour prior to crashing in to the plaintiff’s bicycle in violation of the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

The minor plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury with brain swelling. Minor plaintiff underwent neuropsychological testing which demonstrated cognitive deficit in the higher integrative language processes. This deficit, according to the plaintiffs' vocational expert, will have an adverse effect on plaintiff’s vocational potential.

School records indicate that the minor plaintiff had dropped in class rank from the top 10% to the top 25%. The minor plaintiff will graduate this June from high school and is expected to attend college this fall.

 d injury. Fractured skull. Broken clavicle.

Court/Case #:- Middlesex County, C.A. No. 81-3779

Judge or Jury:- Not applicable

Name of Judge:- Not applicable

Special Damages:. Medical bills $12,952.75

Damages Awarded or Settled:- Settled two days before trial.

Amount:- $375.000.00

Attorney for Plaintiff:- Kenneth I. Kolpan, Boston, Massachusetts

Name of Case:- Name of Case withheld by Agreement of the Parties

Insurance Carrier:- Self-insured

Highest Offer:- $375,000.00

Other Useful Info:- On June 18, 1981, minor plaintiff was riding her bicycle on Nonantum Road, Brighton, Massachusetts in an easterly direction when she was struck from behind by the defendant's truck. The minor plaintiff was knocked off her bicycle and dragged underneath the defendants' vehicle. She lost consciousness and was admitted to a local hospital in a confused and combative state. She suffered a fractured skull, fractured right clavicle and was noted to have edema around her brain. The plaintiff spent 2 weeks in the hospital and returned to school the following September.

The defendants contended that the 14 year old minor plaintiff was riding her bicycle in the lane nearest to the curb and, suddenly without warning, crossed in front of the defendants' truck which had also moved in the lane closest to the center line. The defendant driver stated that he did his best to avoid hitting the young girl by centering his truck so that the truck's wheels would not crush her. The minor plaintiff had no memory of the accident or of events hours before and weeks after the accident due to her head injury. The defendant pleaded responsible to the complaint of failure to slow down while approaching a bicyclist and was fined $25.00.

During discovery, the plaintiff's counsel had the defendants admit that the defendants' truck was traveling on a M.D.C. road in violation of M.D.C. rules which prohibit commercial vehicles thereon and that the defendant company had allowed its vehicles on the M.D.C. road even though it was aware of the prohibition.

Witnesses to the accident contradicted the defendants' assertions and stated that the minor plaintiff was traveling in an easterly direction in the passing lane and not cutting across the road. A witness also testified in deposition that the truck was traveling nearly 50 miles per hour prior to impact. (Speed limit was 35 miles per hour).

The minor plaintiff suffered a closed head injury with mild edema. Neurophysical testing demonstrated a focal deficit in the higher integrative language processes. This deficit, according to the plaintiffs' vocational expert, will have an adverse effect on plaintiffs vocational potential. School records indicate that the minor plaintiff had dropped in class rank from the top 10% to the top 25%. The minor plaintiff will graduate this June from high school and is expected to attend college this fall.

Published with permission of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.