$1 Million Settlement Verdict Upheld in 2006 Lafayette County, Missouri Motorcycle Accident

As Kansas City motorcycle accident attorneys, we know firsthand how damaging--and often deadly--motorcycle accidents can be. Motorcyclists often sustain extensive physical injuries when they are involved in accidents with other vehicles, simply because there's nothing to protect riders from the impact of collision. To drive defensively, motorcyclists must be constantly on the alert, making sure they are visible to other vehicles. Unfortunately, as many Missouri drivers know, even the best defensive drivers--no matter what kind of vehicle they're operating--can still find themselves involved in accidents when they're presented with circumstances they can't control.

1016169_speed_of_motorcycle.jpgLast week, litigation stemming from a five year-old motorcycle accident in Lafayette County finally came to an end. The plaintiff in the lawsuit, 58 year-old David Harlan, is a resident of Colorado who was traveling through Missouri on his motorcycle in 2006. He was heading west on Interstate 70 when he encountered a construction zone. Harlan moved into the left lane so that he could pass a tractor trailer--and when he entered the left lane, the pavement was even. While passing the truck, he came upon a stretch of highway where there was a short section of uneven pavement between the driving and passing lanes. When Harlan tried to return to the right lane, he hit the nearly two inch lip and lost control of his motorcycle. He narrowly missed being hit by the tractor trailer he had just passed.

Harlan suffered severe injuries in the accident and was airlifted from the scene to St. Luke's hospital in Kansas City. Eventually, he was transferred to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, where he continued to recover from an extensive list of injuries, including a laceration to his left leg (which severed his patellar tendon), a tibial plateau fracture, fractured ribs, several broken teeth and a concussion.

Harlan brought a personal injury lawsuit against the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission (MHTC) and APAC-Missouri, the general contractor for the I-70 road construction project. The lawsuit argued that there should have been warning signs to prepare drivers for the uneven lanes. In January 2009, a jury awarded Harlan a $1 million verdict. They found that MHTC was 70% responsible for the accident; that APAC-Missouri was 25% responsible; and that Harlan was 5% responsible.

APAC-Missouri appealed the verdict, arguing that it had followed MHTC's traffic control pattern, and the company did not know that uneven pavement created dangerous driving conditions. Also, the appeal contends that "the evidence does not establish that [APAC] had any authority to unilaterally put up warning signs or that MHTC would have authorized [their] use...if APAC had requested them." Finally, APAC sought to have the verdict reduced by 5% due to Harlan's responsibility for the accident. On December 13, that appeal was denied and the verdict upheld. (Click here to view the appeal.)

Dolan Media Newswire reports that Harlan's medical bills totaled approximately $156,997; that he lost $7500 in income; and that he lost at least $70,000 in retirement pay, because the injuries he sustained will force him to retire early. In spite of all these losses--not to mention Harlan's extensive pain and suffering--the last pre-trial offer Harlan received was only $24,000.

At Aaron Sachs & Associates, we know that insurance companies often pressure victims to accept settlements that are far less than those victims deserve. That's why it's so important to consult an attorney immediately after you're involved in an accident: so you know your rights and interests are being fairly represented. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Kansas City auto accident, call us to see if we can help. There's no charge for an initial consultation.

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