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Right-of-way at issue in motorcycle accident case — $475,000 verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//June 6, 2022

Right-of-way at issue in motorcycle accident case — $475,000 verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//June 6, 2022

Type of action: Personal injury

Injuries alleged: Punctured lung, grade 1 AC joint separation, displaced fracture of proximal phalanx of left middle finger, sprain of metacarpophalangeal joint of left thumb, rupture of ulnar collateral ligament of left thumb

Name of case: Watts v. Giganti

Court: Lynchburg Circuit Court

Case no.: CL19-000503-00

Tried before: Jury

Name of judge or mediator: Judge F. Patrick Yeatts

Date resolved: 2/4/2022

Special damages: Medical expenses totaling $91,295.96; lost wages totaling $5,118.40

Demand: $700,000

Offer: $100,000

Verdict or settlement: Verdict

Amount: $475,000, with interest from accident date

Attorney for plaintiff (and city): Hannah Bowie, Lynchburg

Description of case: Plaintiff was driving a motorcycle south on Wards Road in Lynchburg, Virginia. He had a green to continue traveling south. He testified he was traveling 37 mph in a 35 mph zone. The defendant was at a traffic light facing north on Wards Road intending to turn left into a parking lot with one car in front of her.

The defendant’s light turned green. Her left turn lane had a left turn yield on green sign. The car in front of the defendant safely turned left. The defendant followed the car in front of her. The defendant claimed her left arrow light turned green.

An independent witness observed the plaintiff’s light was green. No other witnesses observed the defendant’s light.

The plaintiff’s motorcycle struck the passenger side of the defendant’s SUV. The plaintiff suffered a punctured lung and broken bones in his hand. He has limited range of motion in his left middle finger. He required immediate surgery and was admitted to the hospital for multiple days.

Defendant’s expert testified that the plaintiff was traveling at an average speed of 43 mph based on iPhone video footage taken off a security video. He also testified that the accident likely would have still happened if the plaintiff had been driving at the posted speed limit of 35 mph.

A Lynchburg City traffic engineer testified that the northbound left turn arrow could not be green if the southbound green light was green.

Plaintiff’s expert testified to the traffic light sequencing and the flow of traffic at the intersection. He also testified that it is impossible to calculate the speed of a motorcycle based on an iPhone video of security footage without having the original security footage.

Hannah Bowie asked the jury for $426,000. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff in the amount of $475,000 with interest from the date of the accident.

Before trial, the parties agreed to high/low of $250,000 / $100,000.

The law firm that represented the plaintiff provided case information.


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