Case details

Motorist and bicyclist blamed crash on each other’s intoxication





Result type

Not present

closed head injury, face, head, nose
Late at night on May 31, 2013, plaintiff Michael Cole, 20, a college student and part-time hotel clerk, was riding his bicycle, returning to a friend’s house from a Taco Bell in Santa Cruz. As he entered the intersection of Bay Street and Lighthouse Avenue, he was struck by a 2004 Toyota Prius driven by Sara Townsend, who narrowly missed Cole’s friend as she was making a left turn at the intersection. Cole sustained several head . Cole sued Townsend, alleging the driver was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Cole was wearing a protective helmet and his bike was equipped with a headlight, which was turned on at the time of the accident. Counsel also contended that Cole had the right of way as he attempted to ride his bicycle across the street. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asserted that Townsend should have seen Cole and yielded the right of way. Counsel asserted that, instead, Townsend was negligent for driving her vehicle while intoxicated and making an unsafe left turn across traffic, causing her to strike Cole and his bicycle and narrowly miss Cole’s friend. Defense counsel asserted that Cole was comparatively negligent for riding his bicycle while intoxicated., Cole sustained a closed head injury and lost consciousness at the scene. He also suffered facial abrasions, a scalp laceration, lower extremity abrasions, anemia from acute blood loss, and acute thrombocytopenia. Cole was subsequently airlifted to a hospital, where he remained for three days for observation. Cole claimed his lacerations and abrasions left him with some scarring, but it has substantially healed. He also claimed that his neurological symptoms have all resolved. Thus, Cole sought recovery of approximately $65,000 in paid medical costs. He also sought recovery of damages for his pain and suffering.
Superior Court of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz, CA

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