Garry R. Salomon and Adam B. Lederman, partners of the New Jersey injury law firm Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. are pleased to announce the resolution of a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Passaic County involving an 18-Wheeler tractor trailer truck colliding into the back of an experienced motorcyclist on a highway. The disputed claim settled for $1.05 million dollars on March 23, 2023, during a mediation before the Hon. Eugene J. Codey, after suing the tractor trailer driver for negligence in failing to make proper observations and failure to take proper precautions before changing lanes. The driver denied negligence and tried to blame the motorcyclist for the collision.
Both Salomon and Lederman jointly represented the motorcyclist. The case was fully prepared and ready for trial. The facts are as follows:
On October 5, 2019, a 65-year-old New Jersey man was riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle alongside seven other motorcyclists. The man just entered stop and go traffic on Route 22 and was traveling straight within its entrance lane in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The truck driver, who was operating a King Mack tractor trailer, began changing into the right lane to merge onto the Route 33 North Ramp. While merging into the right lane, the trucker struck the 65-year-old man, who was thrown off of his 2013 Harley Davidson Road King Classic. The man suffered fractures in his right elbow and both of his wrists, injuries to his right shoulder, 100% hearing loss in his right ear and 15% hearing loss in his left ear. The motorcyclist underwent 2 surgeries and extensive physical and occupational therapy.
He and the other seven motorcyclists were part of the same riding club. The man had served as the group’s “sweep,” meaning he rode at the back of the group and maintained close communication with the rider at the front. Because he was at the back, the other seven motorcyclists had already cleared the area when the accident occurred and were unaware of the near fatal accident. The motorcyclist testified that as he was riding at less than 5 miles per hour, fully equipped with both his helmet and goggles on, the front passenger side of the truck’s front bumper hit the left side of his motorcycle.
Upon impact, the motorcyclist was thrown from his motorcycle and onto the side of the roadway. He suffered several fractures in his arms, including a severely comminuted fracture in his right humerus and several acutely displaced fractures in his left radius and ulna, requiring open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) surgery. The motorcyclist also suffered permanent hearing loss in his right ear.
During his deposition, the defendant, an experienced truck driver, contended that the motorcyclist had attempted to speed past him as the trucker was changing lanes, and in doing so, the motorcyclist struck his truck. The defendant also contended that the motorcyclist had been in his blind spot, which is why could not see and avoid him.
The investigating police officers determined that the truck driver had struck the motorcyclist after attempting to merge onto Route 33 North. In their follow-up interview with the truck driver, the driver stated that he had struck the motorcyclist–not that the motorcyclist had struck him. This was affirmed by the police officers’ follow-up interview with the motorcyclist and at the deposition of the investigating police officer. There was a summons issued to the truck driver but was ultimately dismissed by the Court.
To further prove the defendant’s negligence, Lederman and Salomon hired the services of an expert witness who reconstructed the accident with data and scene measurements. After analyzing the scene, the expert witness referred to standards set by the Commercial Driver License Manual and Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code. The CDL Manual emphasizes the importance of CDL operators seeing hazards, managing space, and being able to avoid conflicts. Title 75 Section 3309(1) requires that drivers on a delineated road with two or more lanes should not switch lanes until the driver has first determined that they can do so safely. Title 75 Section 3523(a) requires that motorcycles be given full use of a lane. The expert opined that the defendant had failed to abide by the guidelines set forth by both the CDL Manual and the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, by failing to observe the motorcyclist before changing lanes. He further concluded that had the truck driver been properly observant and attentive, the truck driver would have seen the motorcyclist before he entered his blind spot and would have been able to avoid colliding with him.
The motorcyclist’s legal team at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon collected all of the motorcyclist’s medical and orthopedic records and hired a local New Jersey retired orthopedic surgeon to serve as an expert medical witness to conduct an independent medical examination of the motorcyclist, review his medical file and to author a narrative report about his findings. In accordance with his report, the doctor was prepared to testify about all the motorcyclist’s injuries, surgical procedures, and rehabilitation as well as his opinions regarding the permanency of his injuries. Lederman and Salomon also obtained expert medical reports from the motorcyclist’s treating orthopedic, otology and otolaryngology doctors.
Adam Lederman and Garry Salomon further hired a Vocational Expert Witness to test and analyze the future employability of the motorcyclist and to determine the loss of his future earning capacity. The vocational expert determined that the motorcyclist’s ability to continue working had been greatly impeded by the accident, which caused Salomon and Lederman to hire an Economist as an expert witness to testify in court about all of the income lost to the motorcyclist as well as his future income losses.
At the time of the collision, the motorcyclist was a small business owner and asserted a disputed wage loss claim. Noting the motorcyclist’s history of hypertension, coronary disease, and depression and contending the circumstances of the collision, the defense argued that the motorcyclist’s career and earning capacity were not cut short by the motorcycle collision. The defendants further refuted the wage loss claim citing plaintiff being at retirement age and business losses accountable due to the pandemic.
The State of New Jersey is a No-Fault Insurance state that provides personal injury protection (PIP) medical benefits to anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident. However, in New Jersey, motorcycle riders, whether they were the driver of the motorcycle or a motorcycle passenger, are not eligible for any PIP medical benefits to cover medical bills and lost pay. The motorcyclist’s Medicare plan covered much of his medical costs, but not his hearing aids.
The case settled on March 23, 2023, during non-binding mediation before the Hon. Eugene J.
Codey, Jr. P.J.SC. (Retired) for the sum of $1,050,000 representing pain and suffering, harms, and losses suffered by the firms’ client.
This was not the first seven figure or multimillion dollar motorcycle crash result for Salomon and Lederman, who jointly head Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C.’s Motorcycle Litigation Practice Group. Back in 2020, Garry Salomon and Adam Lederman settled a case involving a Somerset County motorcyclist whose Harley was struck by an ambulance, with lights and siren activated, that traveled through an intersection with a red light. That motorcyclist suffered several facial fractures, a disc herniation, and a traumatic brain injury. The case settled for $4.5 million, making it one of the largest motorcycle accident settlements in Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C.’s history. Back in 2017, Garry Salomon and Adam Lederman won a $5,400,000 settlement against a bus company whose driver attempted a left hand turn in front of that motorcyclist causing a collision that resulted in severe leg and spinal injuries to that motorcyclist.
This settlement is subject to a qualified confidentiality agreement restricting full disclosure of the names and identities of the parties involved.