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$450,000 Settlement Obtained for Motorcycle Accident Victim Who Had Left Leg Amputated

Case Description: Motorcyclist suffers leg amputation when hit by inexperienced drver making a careless turn

Firm AttorneysJames Lewis and Emily Mapp Brannon

Location: Norfolk, Virginia (VA)

What HappenedWhen we first met our client, he was recovering from a three-week stay at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Our client had been riding his motorcycle down the road on a beautiful sunny day when a young, inattentive driver turned into his lane, amputating his leg below the knee. Our client was driving with his 13-year-old step daughter on the back of his bike.  

Our client had been riding motorcycles all of his life and appeared to have done nothing wrong in causing this horrible accident. When emergency personnel arrived to the scene, they treated him as they would any other victim of traumatic injury.

Once our client was taken into the Nightingale Helicopter for transport to the hospital, one of the onboard nurses believed she smelled alcohol. Once our client arrived at the hospital, he was treated in the trauma bay and several hours later, by court order, the attending trauma surgeon requested that our client's blood alcohol labs be drawn. Those labs revealed a blood alcohol content of .05.  This was a serum blood alcohol. Keep in mind that this blood alcohol level was recorded some four hours after the accident.

Once we discovered that our client had alcohol in his system, we knew there would be many obstacles ahead of us if we were to get this case settled. Many lawyers would have said no to the case as soon as they discovered their client had been drinking. However, given the severity of our client's injuries, we knew we needed to press on. After all, it didn't appear he had done anything wrong in his operation of the motorcycle that morning. Furthermore, a .05 BAC some four hours after the wreck certainly didn't suggest intoxication.

We decided to contact several toxicology experts to determine how one could establish what our client's blood alcohol level was at the time of the crash. Our injury attorneys are very familiar with medicine and the way certain events affect one's metabolism and bodily functions since we handle so many medical malpractice claims. We figured if our client had lost his leg, gone into shock and suffered significant blood loss due to his injury, there must be some impact on his body's ability to eliminate alcohol from his system.

The experts told us that there was no way to determine definitely what our client's blood alcohol level would have been at the time of the wreck due to his serious injuries. This case was headed for litigation the minute we signed it. We knew this was one that would not be settled due to the alcohol issues.

After two years of fighting numerous battles with the defense attorneys, we presented evidence through mediation that our experts would testify that no doctor could say with certainty what our client's blood alcohol level was at the time of the wreck. This is largely due to the fact that he suffered post-traumatic shock, acute anemia due to significant blood loss and the left leg amputation.

Sometimes, it's hard to defend a client when something they've done doesn't sit well with you. However, in this case, we really took a step back and approached the issues with as neutral of an outlook as we could. All of the evidence pointed to the defendant young driver being at fault. All of the debris from the accident was in our client's lane of travel. There was no other evidence beside the blood test to suggest that our client was impaired.

Virginia law does not automatically call for finding a person negligent when they are operating a motor vehicle or motorcycle with a blood alcohol level of .05. There must be other evidence of impairment.  Fortunately for our client, there was no evidence of his impairment. This is likely due to the fact that he was not impaired.

Although we were confident we could win this case at trial, we also knew that we bore significant risk that a jury or judge would decide this case based on emotion. Many mothers would have a difficult time giving our client any money knowing that he had a young girl on the back of his motorcycle and he had consumed some amount of alcohol prior to that point.

We also knew that many jurors might feel sympathy for the young driver who caused the accident. After all, her life will never be the same, and we can only imagine what she must feel about what happened that day. We were happy that we were able to settle this matter for our client in an arena where we had control over the outcome.

Outcome$450,000 settlement

$450,000

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