$225,000 Settlement for Essex County Biker's Injuries
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Bicyclist Fell Avoiding Pickup Truck, Damaging Both Wrists
FACTS AND ALLEGATIONS Plaintiff, 34, rode his bicycle down Wyoming Avenue in South Orange, with his 2-year-old son strapped in a child seat on the back. As plaintiff was about to pass Redmond Road, a black Toyota pickup made a right turn in front of them. In order to avoid contact with pickup, plaintiff veered sharply off the shoulder and into a grassy yard, where the bicycle fell to the side. Plaintiff extended both hands to break the fall.
Two bystanders ran after the truck and stopped the driver, Cheryl Davis, who later said she hadn't stopped because she hadn't felt anything: the pickup and the bicycle never made contact.
Plaintiff suffered abrasions and scrapes, and his helmet even cracked, but his child was fine. Within months, the real estate developer and avid bicyclist realized that his wrists were not healing.
"He's the type of guy that, on his honeymoon for instance, went to Alaska and hiked through the woods," plaintiff's counsel later commented.
Plaintiff sued Davis for motor vehicle negligence, alleging that she suddenly turned right and left him no choice but to steer off the shoulder. Counsel argued that a motorist has the duty to yield to bicyclists.
The defense contested liability. Davis said she thought she had enough time to turn. The defense argued that plaintiff should have been aware of the pickup and slowed to allow Davis to make the turn.
Plaintiff sustained ligament damage in both wrists. He didn't seek medical attention for several months, but by September he realized that his wrists were not healing and sought medical treatment.
Plaintiff underwent arthroscopic surgery, but it helped little. The right-handed plaintiff underwent a second surgery to his right wrist, called Blatt’s capsulodesis, which includes internal fixation with pins. He then had the hardware removed.
Plaintiff missed no work. All medicals were covered by PIP.
Plaintiff claimed pain and suffering; he still has pain in the wrists.
The physician for the second surgery, Scott W. Wolfe, M.D., determined that plaintiff would suffer permanent residual pain.
"It's not like he's a concert violinist or a pitcher," plaintiff's counsel David Silverstein later said. "He has trouble using his computer mouse and trouble playing tennis and kayaking."
The defendant's medical expert, Ross J. Fox, M.D., basically agreed that the plaintiff needed the second surgery, saying, "I will concede to Dr. Wolfe's recommendations on this patient."
Silverstein later added, "It was refreshing to get a doctor who agreed with Dr. Wolfe and agreed that this guy was really hurt and needed the surgery."
- Stephen Kurczy
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