The San Francisco Examiner recently reported on the multimillion-dollar settlement of a civil lawsuit for injuries suffered by a bicycle rider when struck by a Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI) bus near Ocean Beach in November 2008.
Though neither party provided comment about the injuries or the settlement, the $5.36 million amount was negotiated between the injured bicyclist’s attorneys and the San Francisco City Attorney’s office. The settlement was later approved by MUNI’s board.
Settlement documents filed in June 2011 stated that the injured man is under a court – approved conservatorship to manage his financial affairs, which indicates that his injuries were severe enough to render him incapable of accepting the settlement on his own. The Examiner report went on to mention that the amount paid to resolve his claim was more than double the amount necessary to settle the claims filed against MUNI following a 2009 light-rail accident at the West Portal Station, in which more than 40 people were injured.
MUNI now carries liability insurance to cover catastrophic injury claims in excess of $5 million up to a limit of $25 million, but the agency carried no such insurance at the time of the November 2008 bus – bike accident. The settlement will be paid from MUNI’s 2011–12 operating fund.
Proving Liability and Damages in Catastrophic Injury Cases
Proof of catastrophic injury claims in a bicycle-bus accident first depends on the plaintiff’s ability to show that the defendant driver was negligent. In the Ocean Beach accident, the bus driver was alleged to have failed to stop before making a left turn onto the highway where the bicyclist was struck. The driver also allegedly failed to signal the turn while accelerating through it. The bicyclist was hit while crossing the highway from a bike path. Proof of these allegations would have been more than enough to prove negligence in court.
Although the specific nature of the injuries was not reported in the settlement, they must have been horrific to support a settlement of more than $5 million. Proof of damages in cases of permanent or disabling injuries typically depends on the plaintiff’s ability to provide detailed documentation as to the full range of injuries suffered, past and projected treatment expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
In the most severe cases, the anticipated cost of the injured person’s in – home assistance, nursing care, adaptive technology, rehabilitative or vocational therapy, and other expenses will also be included in the damages demand. Each of these elements of loss will normally need to be proved through qualified experts.
Call a San Francisco Bike Accident Lawyer: 866-288-6010
With offices in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and San Rafael, the personal injury attorneys of Weber & Nierenberg offer dependable advice and highly skilled advocacy on behalf of people throughout northern California who need to understand their legal options in the aftermath of a serious bicycle accident. To find out how our lawyers can meet the challenges of your case, contact us by e-mail or phone to arrange a free consultation at any of our locations, or visit our website.