Case details

Motorcyclist’s unsafe lane change caused crash: defense





Result type

Not present

ankle, fracture, right ankle
On Sept. 23, 2011, at approximately 8 a.m., plaintiff Daniel Cooper, an attorney in his 50s, was riding his motorcycle on northbound Franklin Street in San Francisco. As he reached the intersection with Post Street, he heard sirens from an emergency vehicle coming from the west side of Post Street, near Peter Yorke Way. As a result, Cooper slowed down as he crossed the intersection and then initiated a rightward maneuver toward the curb of northbound Franklin Street, just in case the emergency vehicle made a left turn from Post Street. However, shortly after crossing the intersection, Cooper was involved in a collision with a vehicle operated by Jennifer Wong, during which Cooper sustained a right ankle fracture. Cooper sued Wong and the co-owner of Wong’s vehicle, David Lee, Wong’s husband. Cooper alleged that Wong was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Lee was subject to statutory liability. Cooper contended that after he moved toward the curb on the eastern side of northbound Franklin Street, he was rear-ended by Wong’s passing vehicle, which had also crossed the subject intersection. However, Cooper claimed Wong attempted to cross the intersection when the emergency vehicle was roughly a block away. Thus, he contended that Wong failed to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle and caused the collision. Wong disputed Cooper’s account of the accident, claiming that both vehicles crossed the intersection at roughly the same time, when the emergency vehicle was stopped on Peter Yorke Way. She also claimed that Cooper sideswiped the left side of her vehicle within two seconds of crossing the intersection and first spotting the emergency vehicle. Thus, Wong claimed that she did not have enough time to perceive and react to the emergency vehicle and Cooper’s motorcycle. Defense counsel disputed the speed in which both parties were traveling at the time of impact and argued that Cooper’s unsafe lane change maneuver was the cause of the accident., Immediately following the accident, Cooper went to a repair shop and then, after returning home, went to his primary care physician. He was diagnosed with a right ankle fracture and subsequently underwent open reduction and internal fixation surgery four days later. He then followed up with conservative treatment, consisting of 12 weeks of physical therapy and orthopedic follow-ups. Cooper claimed that he was non-weight bearing for six weeks during his recovery and that it took roughly four months for him to fully recover and regain functioning in his right ankle. He also claimed that regardless of his recovery, he still experiences pain and bruising at the site of the implanted ankle hardware following any rigorous exercise or physical activity. However, Cooper claimed he currently has no plan to remove the hardware or treat further. Cooper sought recovery of $5,777.72 in stipulated past medical costs (post-Howell), $666 in stipulated past lost earnings for two days of missed work, and $750 in stipulated damages for the loss of use of his motorcycle. He also sought recovery of $5,000 in property damage, $17,000 in damages for his past pain and suffering, and $89,500 in damages for his future pain and suffering for a 25.5-year life-expectancy. Defense counsel stipulated to Cooper’s past special damages, and to the extent and treatment of Cooper’s ankle fracture. However, defense counsel argued that Cooper did not meet his burden with reasonable certainty as to his alleged future general damages. Counsel also disputed Cooper’s claim for property damage, arguing that Cooper presented no evidence at to the value of his motorcycle or the cost of repairs.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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