A 57 year old retired contractor from Fresno was riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the vicinity of Caldwell Avenue in unincorporated Tulare County on October of 2011 at 5 P.M when his life dramatically changed forever. As he approached an intersection below the posted speed limit of 55 MPH, he observed he had the right of way and the intersecting street was controlled by a stop sign. He noted a car stopped at the sign. As he approached at 45 MPH the car suddenly left its stopped position and turned right in front of him. A witness stated that he was traveling westbound on Caldwell Avenue when he saw a cloud of dust and the man tumbling along the south shoulder.
There had been a violent collision. He stopped and ran across the road to check on the man’s injuries. He noted a traumatic right leg amputation at the ankle. He provided a compression to the sight and called emergency 911. He said he saw the car turn right in front of the helpless motorcycle rider. The man was transported to the hospital but his leg could not be saved. His wife who had been called to the hospital was devastated. The next day while clearly distraught over the injury to her husband she walked out of her home and into the street directly in front of a car. She was killed in the accident. The man not knowing what to do under these horrific circumstances called a lawyer that was referred to him by his brother.
The lawyer told him that because he had only a $15,000.00 insurance policy with Progressive there was little he could do for him. And as for his "wrongful death" claim arising from his wife’s accident, well, he was told "it is obviously a very tragic incident, but based upon the information in the police report, I do not see how there could be any kind of case that you could purse against the car driver. Clearly, [your wife] was distracted and obviously thinking about [your] injury." The attorney declined both cases. It was at this time that the man saw a TV advertisement of The Dunnion Law firm and called. After a discussion with the attorney for The Dunnion Law who advised there were no guarantees in cases such as these that the firm would accept both cases and see if anything could be done.
An investigation was conducted and it was found that both adverse drivers had policy limits of $100,000.00. The company that insured the driver in the initial accident agreed to immediately pay its limits of $100,000.00. The attorney then argued for comparative negligence in the wrongful death claim and noted that the wife would have been the care giver for the man after his tragic accident and therefore the claim, based even on a small percentage of negligence on the driver would sustain a verdict in excess of the $100,000.00 policy limits. After months of negotiation that carrier finally paid its policy to the man as well.