Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

In an unpublished opinion, the California Court of Appeal recently held that the County of Los Angeles was immune from liability following a motorcycle collision in Big Tujunga Canyon Road in Angeles National Forest.  After suffering serious injuries, the injured plaintiff brought claims of a dangerous condition of public property as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The County invoked both design and sign immunity, arguing that they could not be found legally responsible in the lawsuit.  On appeal, the court reviewed the evidence in support of these immunities and affirmed the holding in favor of the County after reviewing.

The facts of this lawsuit demonstrated that Karim Kamal had been riding his motorcycle eastbound on Big Tujunga Canyon Road, in Angeles National Forest, and was struck by Samuel Morales, on his own motorcycle, as Mr. Morales crossed the dividing line and entered Mr. Kamal’s traffic lane in an effort to pass another vehicle. The collision resulted in permanent, serious injuries to Mr. Kamal, and the cause of the collision was deemed to be Mr. Morales’ speed, in violation of the Vehicle Code.

Mr. Kamal filed a complaint against Mr. Morales, the County of Los Angeles, and the State of California for a dangerous condition of public property, negligence in maintaining a roadway without signs, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The County moved for summary judgment based on both design and sign immunity and the fact that Big Tujunga Canyon Road did not constitute a dangerous condition of public property under Government Code Section 835. Mr. Kamal opposed the motion, and it was ultimately granted in favor of the County.

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In a motorcycle accident case, Christina Elliott appealed the dismissal of her lawsuit against Geico Indemnity Company. Mrs. Elliott’s husband was struck and killed by the defendant, who had been driving while intoxicated. While Mrs. Elliott recovered damages from the defendant’s insurer and the restaurant owner’s insurer, she sought additional damages under Geico’s underinsured/uninsured motorist policy.   At issue was whether Geico was required to pay Mrs. Elliott, under the underinsured motorist liability coverage of her policy, in addition to the recovery she had already obtained from the defendant’s insurer and the restaurant owner’s insurer.The facts demonstrated that the defendant, Lesa Shaffer, was returning home from her job at a restaurant and bar in Nevada City. She had been drinking, and her truck crossed the center line and entered the deceased’s lane of travel. His motorcycle was struck by Ms. Shaffer’s vehicle, and he died.

Ms. Shaffer’s insurer paid $15,000, and the restaurant owner’s general liability insurer paid $250,000 to Mrs. Elliott, after the settlement of a wrongful death action brought against Ms. Shaffer and the restaurant owner. Mrs. Elliot then submitted an insurance claim to Geico for $85,000, which is the underinsured motorist coverage limit minus the $15,000 recovered from Ms. Shaffer’s insurance company.

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The California Court of Appeals recently rendered a decision in a case, Kaiser v. Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, Cal. Ct. App. (2015), that dealt with an appeal from a case involving a fatal motorcycle collision.

The plaintiff’s husband was involved in a motorcycle accident following an event that thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts attended at the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, which is located in an unincorporated area of Monterey County.

Directly after the event, the plaintiff’s husband was struck by several motorcycles that had collided and slid into his lane. The plaintiff’s husband reportedly overturned and struck the ground several times before coming to rest in a field. The decedent was pronounced dead at the scene.

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In a  recent California Court of Appeals decision, Trapasso v. Romero, Cal. Ct. App. (2014), the court had to rule on the issue of alleged jury misconduct according to allegations the plaintiff made that jurors engaged in misconduct by making calculations related to potential speed as related to a motorcycle and truck accident.

In the case, several motorcyclists were attempting to pass a truck that was pulling a trailer at a low rate of speed, when one of the motorcyclists collided with the vehicle as it turned left.

At trial, the main sources of contention were how fast the motorcyclists were travelling, in what formation, and whether the truck had used its turn signal prior to beginning its turn. There was conflicting expert witness testimony regarding the speed allegations, and conflicting witness testimony was presented regarding the truck’s use of a left hand turn signal and the speed of the motorcyclists.

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In a recent case, Lanois v. Employers Fire Ins. Co., Cal. Ct. App. (2015), the California Court of Appeals had before it the issue of what an arbitrator may properly award to victims of car accidents subject to car insurance policy limitations.

The case arose out of a car accident, which occurred when a motorist driving an SUV entered an intersection at the start of a left turn, causing a motorcyclist and his passenger to swerve in an attempt to not collide. The motorcycle struck a metal telephone box, which resulted in both the driver and passenger of the motorcycle being forcefully thrown off the motorcycle some distance before landing on the ground, resulting in serious injuries.

The limits of the SUV driver’s insurance policy, $50,000, was paid out to the two motorcyclists, in the amount of $25,000 each.

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