Transportation Law: Orange County Bicyclist Settles for $9M Amidst National Report Finding Rise in Bicycle Pedestrian Fatalities


In April 2018, Orange County, CA Plaintiff, Jose Luis Nunez, reached a $9M settlement with a confidential truck-driver defendant after Nunez struck the passenger side of the trailer while riding in an intersection on a flashing “don’t walk” signal. Nunez and the truck driver had been travelling in the same direction, with Nunez on the sidewalk, parallel to the semi-trailer. The truck-driver turned right at the intersection on a green light when Nunez entered at the same time and struck the trailer with his bicycle. Although the police report found Nunez at-fault for failing to yield the right-of-way, in violation of Vehicle Code section 21804(a), Nunez claimed the truck-driver was inattentive because he failed to notice Nunez, even as Nunez passed him prior to entering the intersection. Although Nunez survived the crash, he suffered major injuries including the loss of a leg, testicles, pelvic fractures and abdominal avulsions.

The settlement comes on the heels of a national report that found 70% of all hit-and-run fatalities in the United States involve pedestrians and cyclists. According to a report issued by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the number of hit-and-run fatalities jumped 61% from 2009 to 2016. Last year, traffic-related fatalities surpassed 40,000 for second year in a row, according to the National Safety Council.

With the rise of bicycle and pedestrian commuters, there appears to be a concomitant rise in auto v. bicycle/pedestrian litigation yielding astronomical verdicts for accident victims and their families. In addition to Nunez settlement discussed above ( Jose Luis Nunez v. Confidential, Orange County Super Ct., No. 30-2015-00786869), this month’s CTD publication features an $18.7 million Las Vegas, Nevada verdict in a case brought by the family of a surgeon struck and killed by a bus while riding a bicycle ( Khiabani v. Motor Coach Industries, Inc., et al., Las Vegas, 8th District Ct., No. A-17-755-977-C). We also feature a $4 Million Orange County verdict involving a 16-year-old who was fatally injured while riding a skateboard in a designated bike lane ( Rodriguez, et al. v. Ulloa, et al., Orange County Super Ct., No. 30-2016-00853728). In our February 2018 CTD publication, we featured a $5.2 million Los Angeles County verdict against defendant Avis Budget Group. brought by an injured bicyclist ( S anchez v. Avis Budget Group, Los Angeles Super Ct. No. BC568846).
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