One spring morning Sam Barton decided to take a pleasure ride on his motorcycle in the city where he lives. He approached an intersection with a red light and came to a stop for the traffic light. The light turned green, and Sam proceeded into the intersection. Suddenly, he saw a vehicle approaching from his left but before he had a chance to react, he was in a collision that caused him to be thrown from his bike. Sam had a long history of riding motorcycles and was well versed with safety. He was able to “tuck and roll” to protect his head, but his body still landed hard on the road pavement. The other vehicle was operated by Alan Abell, whose car was owned by a family member. Emergency personnel and the police were called to the scene. Upon concluding his investigation, the responding officer cited Mr. Abell for running a red light, as well as driving an unregistered vehicle.
Sam was attended to by the responding EMT’s and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. He was checked out for neck and shoulder pain, had a shoulder x-ray, and then was discharged with instructions to take it easy at work for the next two weeks, which he did. Sam thought himself fortunate as he believed his injuries could have been much worse, as he did not even sustain any road rash. At the suggestion of a co-worker whom I had represented in the past, Sam contacted me. He believed he had only suffered “minor injuries”, but we opened a case for him. Sam saw his doctor for his shoulder pain but was quickly able to resume his normal work activities. When the shoulder pain failed to improve, he tried physical therapy but that did not help. Treatment was complicated as this was in the first year of COVID. Months after the collision he had an MRI that was ordered to rule out that he had sustained structural damage to his shoulder. Unfortunately, though, the test revealed a partially torn rotator cuff. Sam consulted a top orthopedic surgeon in the Boston area. He followed the surgeon’s advice to continue with physical therapy, and he reluctantly had a cortisone injection, but neither helped. After some thought, he agreed to undergo shoulder surgery, which was followed by more physical therapy. Fortunately, he made a good recovery, and was able to return to work 15 weeks after his surgery.
— Persuading THREE different insurance companies that even if the defendant had a yellow light it was not a valid defense —
With surgery, as well as extensive medical bills and lost wages, Sam clearly had a very valuable claim. When it was time to move forward to try to settle Sam’s claim, I had to deal with THREE different insurance companies (meaning 3 insurance policies). The vehicle Mr. Abell was operating was insured with a $100,000.00 policy limit; and Mr. Abell owned his own vehicle with a $100,000.00 policy limit with another insurance company that would provide excess coverage. With a claim that I thought was worth at least $200,000.00 I expected things to move smoothly and fairly quickly when I presented Sam’s claim to each company. However, Mr. Abell’s own company conducted a month’s long coverage investigation to see if there was any way out of paying this claim. Further, each company tried to blame Sam for contributing to causing the collision because Mr. Abell claimed he had a yellow light when he entered the intersection. I am sure that every driver in Massachusetts at one time or another has entered an intersection with a yellow light, and many drivers think it is ok to do so. However, a steady yellow light means the traffic light is changing from green to red. According to Massachusetts traffic regulations and the Rules of the Road published by the Registry of Motor Vehicles a driver with a yellow light must stop if it is safe to do so; further, if a driver is already stopped at an intersection or stop line with a yellow light the driver may not proceed into the intersection. I argued that it was clear Mr. Abell had the red light, but even if Mr. Abell had a yellow light it was not a valid defense and Sam did NOTHING to contribute to the collision. The companies were persuaded, and we settled with each company for each of its $100,000.00 policy limits, as well as an additional $25,000.00 from Sam’s own auto insurer pursuant to his underinsured motorist benefits coverage, for a total of $225,000.00. Sam thought it important to share his case, both to help educate on the Rules of the Road and to the importance of carrying $250,000.00 in underinsured motorist benefits coverage on your auto and motorcycle policy.
Contact our experienced motorcycle injury lawyers if you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, or any other type of motor vehicle crash. Since 1988, we have successfully represented dozens of injured motorcyclists. These cases are handled on a contingent fee basis which means no money is owed unless we are successful in collecting money compensation on the case. Contact us now for a free and confidential consultation.
In order to protect the privacy of the injured person and witnesses, all names have been changed. Any resemblance to the names of real persons, past or present, is merely coincidental and not intended.