$3,250,000 SETTLEMENT – FEMALE BICYCLIST STRUCK BY HIT AND RUN DRIVER
A 24-year-old female bicyclist was struck by the passenger side rear view mirror of a BMW car when she was riding in the bike lane on State Route 9 in Saratoga, California. She fell to the pavement, hit her head and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The BMW driver briefly slowed, then sped away and could not be identified or found. There were no witnesses to the incident and the bicyclist had no memory of the incident.
Within a month after the accident, the police received a tip that a prominent Santa Clara businessman and sports car dealer had asked his mechanic to repair his broken BMW rear view mirror in his garage and to order a mirror from out of state. The police impounded the BMW, but a thorough FBI inspection could not identify any physical evidence of contact between the BMW and the bicycle or plaintiff. The broken mirror could not be found. The identity of the hit and run driver remained unknown for over 9 months.
Soon after we became the attorneys for the injured bicyclist, our investigator located a former female employee of the BMW car owner who said she heard him say on the night of the incident that he had hit a bicyclist on Saratoga Road but she was not hurt. We sent a representation letter to the BMW owner, advising him we had proof he was the driver who had hit our client. In a telephone conversation with an unknown person, he stated he had hit a bicyclist, but she was not hurt. One of his employees overheard this conversation and reported it to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department who then arrested him. He denied hitting the bicyclist and claimed the BMW mirror was broken when he was backing out of his garage. He produced the mirror over a year later, but it had been wiped clean of all physical evidence. His attorneys contended our client had not been hit by the BMW. There was no evidence of any contact between the BMW and bicyclist and the defense claimed that she fell because she lost control of her bike.
Our accident reconstruction expert and biomechanical expert testified that the mirror had hit the left hip of our client, leaving a large bruise that caused the mirror to break. She was knocked to the pavement and received a traumatic brain injury, causing cognitive deficits and difficulty with concentration, processing information, multi-tasking and executive functioning. She suffered cranial nerve injury, causing double vision and fractures of her collarbone and ribs. There were several mediations and settlement conferences without resolution of the case. We prepared the case for trial and were able to convince the insurance company for the BMW driver that we would win at trial. The case settled for $3,250,000 shortly before the beginning of the trial in April 2012.