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Motorcyclist awarded damages after hitting a car that failed to yield

Accident Type: 
Motorcycle Accident
Incident Date: 
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Result Date: 
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Monetary Result: 
On Nov. 14, 2006, plaintiff Carlos Llamas, 34, a substitute teacher, was driving a motorcycle east on Lugonia Avenue in Redlands, on his way home from school. The plaintiff crashed into a vehicle operated by Thomas Chung, who was coming from the opposite direction and was making a left turn into his driveway. Llamas’s motorcycle hit the front of Chung’s car, and he was thrown approximately 150 feet. An ambulance sent Llamas to an emergency room with a fracture to his left, non-­dominant forearm. He underwent several surgeries, including open reduction-­internal fixation with plating and skin grafting from his thigh. He also sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee for which he received arthroscopic surgery. Llamas also sustained lacerations to his bowel and colon, leading to a partial removal of both, and the insertion of a colostomy. Llamas sued Chung for motor vehicle negligence. He claimed that Chung failed to yield to his oncoming motorcycle, which was going straight on Lugonia, as opposed to the defendant’s left-­turning vehicle. Llamas claimed that he tried to avoid hitting Chung’s vehicle, but couldn’t, and collided with the car’s front end. Chung contended that Llamas was speeding, and presented two eyewitnesses who stated that the plaintiff was driving between 70 mph and 80 mph in a zone where the speed limit was 50 mph. Chung claimed that, had Llamas been going slower, the accident could have been avoided because the plaintiff would have had enough distance to stop before the crash. The plaintiff had a successful takedown of the colostomy after seven months and had no residual intestinal problems. He claimed residual weakness in his left arm with permanent disfigurement. He also claimed that he’d require future surgery on his injured left knee. Llamas missed 1.5 years of work after the accident, but by trial he had returned to an active, working lifestyle. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering, past and future medical costs and past lost earnings. The defense contended that the plaintiff’s knee injury was the result of a pre­-existing condition relating to a compound fracture he had sustained in a car accident two years prior to the subject accident. Chung did not contest the cause or severity of the plaintiff’s arm and intestinal injuries. The jury found that Chung was 75­-percent liable and Llamas was 25-­percent at fault. Thus the damages awarded to Llamas were reduced to $867,480.      

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