Case details

Motorist’s hasty turn caused accident, motorcyclist claimed





Result type

Not present

brain, brain damage, traumatic brain injury
On Nov. 18, 2016, plaintiff Carlos Diaz, 32, an information-technology manager, was motorcycling on Gold Street, in San Jose. He collided with a sport utility vehicle driven by Shemin Gau, who was executing a left turn out of an office driveway and across two lanes of traffic. The collision occurred as Gau was crossing the second lane. Diaz was ejected from his motorcycle, and he landed on the roadway. He suffered of his head. Diaz sued Gau and Gau’s employer, TiVo Corp. Diaz alleged that Gau was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Diaz further alleged that TiVo was liable because the accident occurred during the course of Gau’s work functions. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that Gau’s dashboard camera recorded that Gau failed to stop prior to exiting the driveway and entering traffic. Counsel also noted that the camera showed that Gau was traveling 7 mph before entering traffic and that Gau cut off Diaz’s right of way. Plaintiff’s counsel acknowledged that Diaz was traveling faster than the 35-mph speed limit, but Diaz’s experts opined that Diaz was traveling 37 to 46 mph before he applied the brakes. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that, regardless of Diaz’s excessive speed, the accident would not have happened if Gau had stopped before proceeding into traffic. Gau claimed that looked for a split second just before he entered traffic, but that Diaz was likely at least 300 feet away. He claimed that when he exited the driveway, he did not know that Diaz was traveling faster than the speed limit. Gau’s experts in accident reconstruction and trial exhibits estimated that Diaz was traveling 60 to 65 mph in a 35-mph zone before he applied his brakes to avoid Gau’s vehicle, which was entering traffic. Defense counsel argued that Diaz was at least partially to blame for the accident. Counsel contended that Diaz would have been difficult to see given the “looming” created by the headlights being cast by other vehicles traveling behind Diaz and the distance between Diaz and Gau. Counsel also contended that Diaz was ejected from his motorcycle prior to the impact with Gau’s vehicle and that when Diaz’s motorcycle crashed into the left, rear fender of Gau’s vehicle, it caused Gau’s vehicle to spin 130 degrees. Defense counsel argued that if Diaz was not traveling 60 to 65 mph, there would have been no crash, as Diaz would have missed impacting the left, rear driver’s side of Gau’s vehicle., Diaz suffered a catastrophic brain injury. He was taken to a hospital, where he remained in a coma for several weeks. Diaz can no longer perform information-technology work as a result of his injury. At the time of the accident, he was earning more than $165,000 per year. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Diaz’s past loss of earnings totaled $438,000 and that his future lost earnings would total $4,102,000. The parties stipulated that Diaz’s past medical expenses totaled $738,215. Diaz sought recovery of that amount, $54,000 for future medical treatment, damages for past and future loss of earnings, and damages for past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel agreed that Diaz suffered a serious brain injury and did not dispute the nature and extent of it. The defense’s expert neuropsychologist opined that Diaz, a brilliant individual, had his IQ drop to 81 as a result of the injury. The defense challenged the extent of Diaz’s lost earnings but acknowledged that total lost earnings would be $3 million to $5 million.
Superior Court of Santa Clara County, Santa Clara, CA

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