Minami Tamaki Obtains Significant Win for Injured Motorcyclist and for Plaintiffs’ Rights to Collect Full Medical Expenses

Seth RosenbergMinami Tamaki Senior Associate Seth I. Rosenberg recently obtained a personal injury judgment for a motorcycle enthusiast involved in a crash in November 2006. Rosenberg obtained a verdict of $189,961.02 and costs of $24,355.74 in Alameda County (Goode v. Crockett).

Rosenberg’s understanding of the “Rules of the Road” and the trauma and pain that serious motorcycle accidents cause has helped him successfully represent many motorcycle riders and injured motorists in their claims against negligent automobile drivers.

Since 1998, motorcycle accidents and deaths have been increasing. Forty percent of deaths are the result of an automobile or truck turning left in front of motorcyclists, according to recent research of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Automobile driver distractions, along with other potential factors, contribute to the increasing rate of motor vehicle riders’ crippling injuries and fatalities.

Rosenberg represented Don Goode, a 39-year-old fermentation specialist who was riding his motorcycle on Seminary Avenue with a green light into the intersection of Camden and MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, California. After Goode entered the intersection the defendant, driving his Cadillac CTS on MacArthur Blvd., darted out against a red light, causing Goode to strike the side of his car.

The defendant contested liability and alleged that he stopped at the intersection’s red light before turning. As the defendant began turning right on the red light, he heard a loud motorcycle noise and saw Goode’s Kawasaki motorcycle heading toward him. The defendant claimed he saw Goode lose control of his motorcycle and veer toward his Cadillac.

As a result of the crash, Goode suffered nerve damage in his right arm, torn cartilage and a partially torn left ligament in his left knee. Goode had knee surgery to remove the damaged cartilage about a year after the accident. His treating orthopedic surgeon testified that Goode will need two to four more arthroscopic procedures in his lifetime, possible surgical repair of the injured ligament, and that he will suffer early-onset arthritis in his left knee. The nerve damage, though mild, is permanent and can only be remedied by surgery.

Prior to trial, Rosenberg conducted a thorough investigation and located witnesses to the case. One witness, Patrick Millet, a road supervisor for AC Transit, was stopped at the intersection. He said the defendant never stopped at the red light but headed straight into the intersection, causing the collision. Millet also said Goode slammed into the left side of the defendant’s Cadillac, flew over his motorcycle, landed on the hood and then rolled down onto the street.

A jury of eight women and four men deliberated almost five hours and returned a verdict in favor of Goode for $189,961.03, including payment for past medical bills, lost wages, future medical bills, future wage loss and damages for pain and suffering.

Rosenberg also successfully argued that Goode should receive compensation for the full amount of the medical bills he incurred, rather than just the amount which medical insurance paid for his treatment, based upon the recent appellate case of Howell v. Hamilton Meats. Howell has been granted review by the California Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in the next few months on the issue of what amounts constitute proper compensation for a victim’s past medical expenses.

The money Goode received will ensure he has the financial means to obtain the medical care he may need in the future due to his accident injuries, and cover any income he may lose while receiving medical care.

After the lawsuit, Goode gave Minami Tamaki the highest praise, saying he felt like he had not just hired a law firm but made new friends. If he had to do it all over again, said Goode, he would not change a thing. These are the types of results Minami Tamaki strives for on a daily basis.

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