Motorcyclist Who Suffered Amputation Receives $7M Settlement

A motorcyclist who suffered a traumatic foot amputation in a vehicle crash received a $7M settlement addressing the injuries. Attorneys Griffin M. O’Hanlon and John G. Baker of Norfolk, Virginia represented the injured plaintiff.

Motorcycle accident aftermath

ByDani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D.

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Published on January 26, 2024

Motorcycle accident aftermath

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding his motorcycle through an intersection, where he had the right of way. The defendant, who was driving as part of his employment, was traveling in the opposite traffic lane, facing the plaintiff. Then, the defendant made a left turn into the plaintiff’s path of travel. The vehicles collided, resulting in injuries to the plaintiff.

As a result of the impact, the plaintiff’s left foot got caught in the rear wheel spoke of the motorcycle, where the foot suffered a traumatic amputation. The plaintiff’s left femur was also broken.

Witnesses at the scene applied emergency first aid, including a tourniquet, until emergency medical personnel arrived. A witness later testified that they saw the plaintiff riding the motorcycle according to the applicable rules of the road, including the speed limit.

Emergency medical teams transported the injured plaintiff to a nearby hospital. At the hospital’s emergency department, further examination revealed the plaintiff’s foot had no pulse and was attached only by an outer layer of skin. Physicians finished removing the plaintiff’s foot and treated the plaintiff’s broken femur, both of which required the plaintiff to undergo surgery.

The plaintiff spent nine days in the hospital before moving to a rehabilitation center to work on physical and occupational therapy - which included learning the skills required to live with a prosthesis.

In the months following the accident, the plaintiff was also diagnosed with post-traumatic osteoarthritis in his remaining ankle. Doctors predicted the plaintiff would need surgery on the ankle in the future.

The Terms of the Settlement

The settlement included approximately $1.8 million in special damages to address the plaintiff’s medical expenses. A total of $313.802.77 was awarded for past medical bills, while $1,557,562.13 went to address the plaintiff’s future anticipated medical needs.

Evidence essential to the settlement included expert witness testimony about the plaintiff’s future medical needs and life care plan. This testimony focused on the plaintiff’s likely future needs for surgery, such as treatment of the traumatic osteoarthritis in the right ankle. It also focused on the fact that the plaintiff now has an osseointegrated prosthetic limb, which he will likely have for the rest of his life.

The settlement process included a mediation session in early 2023. While mediation did not lead to an agreement at that time, it did foster communication and information-sharing between the parties in a way they found valuable. The plaintiff’s attorneys also credited the trial court judge’s assistance in facilitating the settlement approximately one month before trial began.

Takeaways for Attorneys

The plaintiff in this case was 40 years old at the time of the accident. He showed significant dedication to learning to live with his injuries; as a result of his work in rehabilitation and afterward, he made great progress in learning to live with a prosthetic leg.

The plaintiff’s commitment to reaching his maximum physical potential in his new state, however, did not change the fact that he experienced severe, life-altering injuries. Nor did it change the fact that these injuries will affect the plaintiff for the rest of his life.

Discussing what an injured party will face in the future is often speculative without the support of an expert witness. Expert witnesses in life care planning and related medical fields can provide experience-based insight into the likely prognosis for a given patient, including the likely costs and future medical needs or expectations for that person.

An expert witness’s discussion of life care needs is particularly valuable when a plaintiff actively participates in their own recovery, as the plaintiff did here. Separating the plaintiff’s own dedication from the fact of the lifelong injuries is a must to clarify that sometimes, a plaintiff cannot “overcome” an injury but merely adapt to it - and that a fair settlement or verdict supports that lifelong adaptation.

About the author

Dani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D.

Dani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D.

Dani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D., is a multifaceted legal professional with a background in insurance defense, personal injury, and medical malpractice law. She has garnered valuable experience through internships in criminal defense, enhancing her understanding of various legal sectors.

A key part of her legal journey includes serving as the Executive Note Editor of the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review. Dani graduated with a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 2007, after completing her B.A. in English, summa cum laude, in 2004. She is a member of the Michigan State Bar and the American Bar Association, reflecting her deep commitment to the legal profession.

Currently, Dani Alexis has channeled her legal expertise into a successful career as a freelance writer and book critic, primarily focusing on the legal and literary markets. Her writing portfolio includes articles on diverse topics such as landmark settlements in medical negligence cases, jury awards in personal injury lawsuits, and analyses of legal trial tactics. Her work not only showcases her legal acumen but also her ability to communicate complex legal issues effectively to a wider audience. Dani's blend of legal practice experience and her prowess in legal writing positions her uniquely in the intersection of law and literature.