Man Injured in Virginia Beach Motorcycle Crash Receives $175,000 Settlement | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia personal injury client suffered numerous broken bones and developed psychological trauma after the driver of a car wrecked his motorcycle on Dam Neck Road in Virginia Beach, VA. He was riding in the left lane when the teenager behind the wheel of the car beside him changed lanes without warning and caused a rear-end collision.

The impact ejected our client from his motorcycle. Surgeons had to repair his broken collarbone and replace his shattered shoulder blade with plates and screws. Torn shoulder muscles and fractures to several bones in his hand and fingers also left the man with limited use of his left arm for the rest of his life.

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Key Legal Strategy

Three factors complicated our Virginia personal injury attorney’s efforts to secure a fair and just settlement for his motorcycle accident client. First, the injured man was an active-duty member of the Navy at the time of the crash. Since he received nearly all of his post-crash medical care at Portsmouth Naval Hospital, he racked up few unpaid doctors bills.

Second, the at-fault driver vigorously contested the facts presented in the official police report on the accident. The teenager who caused the rear-end collision that left our personal injury client permanently partially disabled swore that she had used her turn signal while changing lanes. The girl’s mother, who was following her in another vehicle, also testified to this even though no other witnesses confirmed the at-fault driver’s account.

Last, the teenager carried the Virginia-mandated minimum liability coverage. Unless our personal injury attorney could identify another source of coverage, the most his client could receive would be $25,000.

Our lawyer overcame the first challenge in two ways. He hired a private practice surgeon who had served in the military to review the motorcycle accident victim’s medical records and produce an estimate of what the surgeries, hospital stays and physical therapy sessions would cost if they had not been provided by the Navy.

Additionally, our staff attorney arranged to have a psychologist work with the motorcycle accident victim to discover why the man refused to get back on a bike even after he had physically recovered enough to ride again. Those sessions led to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Proving to a jury that the teenager driving the car had not signaled her intention to change lanes would have been tough, but that did not become necessary. Instead, our personal injury attorney was able to use knowledge of the teen’s poor driving history during settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives.

During pretrial discovery, information was disclosed that the teen had been ordered to complete a defensive driving course after being ticketed for speeding. The records of that case were sealed, but the disclosure of the information by family members made discussing the topic in general and outside a courtroom permissible.

On the final issue of available recovery, our Virginia personal injury lawyer fought for the maximum settlement from the at-fault driver and invoked the underinsured motorist coverage provisions of his client’s own auto insurance policy. All drivers in Virginia are required to carry uninsured and uninsured motorist coverage specifically to ensure they can receive fair settlements when they fall victim to hit-and-run or particularly severe accidents.

Two months before the client’s civil lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial in Virginia Beach, the at-fault driver’s insurer agreed to pay the full $25,000 and the partially disabled man’s policy provided $150,000. This money represented compensation and damages for psychological trauma, ongoing medical care and replacement wages after the man’s shoulder and arm problems forced him to abandon his Navy career.

There really is no such thing as an easy motorcycle accident injury case, but our Virginia Beach-based attorney use every legal tactic and strategy to achieve the best outcome for each of our clients.

Court: Virginia Beach Circuit Court, Virginia Beach, VA, December 2011

Staff: Staff attorney