Article from Missouri Lawyers Weekly
By: Rachel Webb January 7, 2019
Family settles after truck driver fatally hits biker
A pair of Kansas City attorneys has obtained a $4.1 million wrongful-death settlement in the case of a motorcyclist who crashed with a truck driver who was found to have a habit of disregarding stop signs.
Michael C. Rader and Michelle Marvel of Bartimus Frickleton Robertson Rader obtained the settlement on behalf of the motorcyclist’s surviving family in September.
The decedent was riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle around 3:45 p.m. in March 2017, according to a submission from Rader. As he approached an intersection in Odessa from the south, a commercial truck approached the same intersection from the east. The driver of the truck failed to stop at a stop sign and entered the intersection, colliding with the motorcyclist, who did not have a stop sign. The motorcyclist died at the scene.
Rader represented the motorcyclist’s spouse and three adult daughters in the lawsuit against the truck driver and employer.
“I think here the family was happy not to have to go to trial, and they were able to get some closure by resolving the case without going through whole rigors of trial,” Rader said.
Extensive discovery uncovered two issues that proved detrimental to the defendant, Rader said. First, GPS-tracking software in the truck confirmed the driver had failed to heed stop signs at numerous intersections earlier that day. This helped to show that the truck driver’s failure to stop at the site of the crash was his custom and habit, rather than a simple mistake, Rader said. Second, the driver’s qualification-and-training file showed he struggled to maintain the company’s policy of visually scanning intersections before entering.
The defense also disputed whether the motorcyclist, a 69-year-old man, had experienced pain and suffering after the crash, instead contending that the man had died instantly, Rader said. The plaintiff’s team relied on a pathologist who testified as an expert witness that the man did experience cognizable pain and suffering before succumbing to his injuries, Rader said. The team also presented testimony from a lay witness who saw the man moving and breathing at the scene of the crash, the attorney said.
The truck driver was not ticketed in the crash but was terminated by the trucking company, Rader said.