California Teen’s Excessive Speed Leads Jury to Hand Out $5M Judgment in U-Turn Accident

car crashThere are many causes of accidents. In California, as in other locations, one of the most common catalysts in terms of causing accidents that lead to injuries or death is a speeding driver. In a recent case from Los Angeles County reported by propertycasualty360.com, a gardener, who was struck by the driver traveling behind him, recovered $5 million for his brain, hip, and diaphragm injuries. The rear driver was partly at fault for traveling somewhere between 11 and 23 mph in excess of the posted speed limit when he crashed into the gardener’s vehicle.

The injured driver in this case was a 38-year-old Los Angeles County man who was attempted to return to his home when the crash happened. Due to the layout of the road in front of his apartment, the man had to make a U-turn to reach the parking area in front of his building. Since the road was narrow, the gardener engaged his right turn signal and pulled to the right-hand curb in order to have the necessary space to complete the U-turn without going off the road. As the gardener began to make his U-turn, the vehicle that had been behind him crashed into his vehicle’s driver’s side door. The impact was so profound that emergency workers had to use the Jaws of Life to free the gardener. Police cited both the gardener (for an unsafe U-turn) and the 18-year-old driver who crashed into him (for excessive speed).

The gardener suffered a significant leg and hip injury, a diaphragm injury, and a traumatic brain injury so severe that he was unconscious for two weeks and had concussive amnesia for a month after that. The gardener sued the teen for his injuries, arguing that the teen was negligent because he was going too fast and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. Each driver argued to the jury that the other’s moving violation was the true source of the injuries. To strengthen his case, the gardener had on his side an accident reconstruction expert, who opined in court that the teen was going between 53 and 58 mph, well in excess of the 35-mph limit. This, the gardener argued, was the cause of the accident. Had the teen been driving at the speed limit, he would have seen and recognized that the gardener was making a U-turn in time and would have been able to avoid the collision.

On the other side, the defense argued that the gardener’s unsafe U-turn was the cause of the accident. The gardener had turned on his right turn signal, which motivated the teen to try to pass him on the left. The crash only took place when the gardener began turning to the left to accomplish his U-turn, and the teen was braking as he hit the gardener. While acknowledging that the teen was speeding, the defense argued that the crash would have occurred even if he had been traveling at the posted limit.

As for his injuries, the gardener argued that he would need a total hip replacement and that his head injury had caused him a permanent cognitive impairment and the loss of gray matter. This would lead to early onset dementia, and the injuries to both his brain and body would mean he would need 24-7 care. Ultimately, the jury found that the gardener had suffered $10 million in damages, but he was partly at fault for the accident as a result of the U-turn, reducing the final award to a total of $5 million.

If you’ve been injured because another driver was operating his vehicle at an excessive speed, you may have a very strong case for compensation for the harm you suffered as a result of this driver’s driving unsafely. The hardworking San Mateo car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye & Fitting are here to help injured people pursue the damages they incurred and can help you with your personal injury case. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

California Jury Rejects Driver’s ‘Sudden Emergency’ Defense, Awards Parents $3.5M in Wrongful Death Case, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published Nov. 17, 2016

California Court Affirms Two-Million Dollar Verdict for Plaintiff Injured in Auto Accident, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 10, 2016

Photo credit: Dino Kužnik at Wikimedia Commons.