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Off-duty officer injured in motorcycle accident with a car and his lawyers win their lawsuit against negligent motorist
Accident Type:Motorcycle Accident
Incident Date:Saturday, October 8, 2005
Result Date:Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Court:Contra Costa Superior Court
On Oct. 8, 2005, Ronald Knittel, 50, a K9 officer with the federal government, was riding his motorcycle in Concord, CA. On the road ahead of him, motorist Nancy Choi was lost, looking for a soccer field. She pulled to the right to begin a Uturn, however Knittel misunderstood, thinking she was letting him pass. He attempted to pass her on the left within the lane. When Choi began the U-turn, Knittel swerved to the left in an attempt to avoid collision, but his motorcycle crashed into the left front side of her car. The motorcycle slid, hit the curb and threw Knittel roughly 15 feet onto the air, throwing him onto the asphalt. Due to the accident, Knittel lost consciousness and experienced temporary lower extremity paralysis. He was hospitalized overnight, then released as stable. He claimed headaches, radiating arm pain, lower back and leg pain. Knittel sued Choi for her negligence in causing the accident. Choi denied pulling to the right and testified that she activated her turn signal. She intended to pull into the driveway of an air ambulance business. Her lawyers argued that Knittel simply passed a slow-moving vehicle at approximately 50 mph only four feet to the left of the centerline and that he did not notice Choi’s turn signal as he was focused on an oncoming vehicle. Knittel insisted that he could no longer take the pain and planned to retire in April 2010 at age 55 after 20 years of service. Although Knittel worked full time since his return to work in January 2006, due to his early retirement and inability to work overtime since the accident, Knittel contended that his pension would be less than it would have been, had there been no accident. Choi's attorneys responded that Knittel had only a transient aggravation to his preexisting chronic neck and back problems, for which he underwent three sets of MRIs (two neck, one back) before the accident. Her attorneys also denied that Knittel needed surgery, contending that the accident caused a flare up or aggravation lasting about three months. Ultimately, Knittel and his attorneys won, awarding him $742,907. Choi was determined to be 75-percent at fault, while Knittel was found to be 25-percent at fault.