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You're The Jury - What is YOUR Verdict?

The following facts are based on an actual traffic collision case now pending in the California Superior Court.

Sherman Way in Van Nuys, California has 3 lanes of travel in each direction. Barbara Bumper was on her way to work, driving east in the curb lane. Warren Wheeler was westbound and pulled into the center lane, which is a turning lane. Mr. Wheeler testified that he had his left turn signal on and that he waited in the turning lane until eastbound opposing traffic in the two lanes closest to him stopped. He then began his left turn to a private driveway, proceeding across the number 1 and 2 lanes of eastbound traffic. He said that as the front end of his vehicle entered the apron of the driveway, he was struck on the passenger door by Ms. Bumper's car.

Barbara Bumper testified that that she was proceeding in the lane closest to the curb lane with the flow of traffic. Traffic stopped for a red light at the intersection ahead. As the cars to Ms. Bumper's left slowed, the Wheeler vehicle suddenly appeared in front of her, coming from left to right. Although she slammed on her brakes, she was unable to stop in time to prevent the crash. Both cars were total losses.

Ms. Bumper continued to work as a teacher. When she arrived at work, she was too upset, shaken and hurt to concentrate and was taken to the emergency room by a co-worker. She did go back to work the next day and has lost only a few hours for doctor’s visits since that time. She is not making a claim for lost wages. After the emergency room visit, she was referred by her attorney to an orthopedist, as she did not know a doctor and was experiencing continuing pain in her arms, back, neck and knees. The orthopedist took X-rays, evaluated her injuries and prescribed a course of physical therapy. Ms. Bumper went to physical therapy 3 times a week for 4 weeks, then gradually tapered off to twice a week and then stopped receiving treatment after about 10 weeks. Her left knee continues to interfere with her life, causing her pain when walking and driving. She was referred by the orthopedist to a radiologist who performed on MRI on her knee. Although it showed some arthritic changes, the MRI did not help explain why the collision is causing continuing pain to the knee. Her medical bills total $6,780.00. The orthopedist states that all of Ms. Bumper's pain and medical treatment were caused by the collision with Mr. Wheeler that she is likely to have problems into the future and will need physical therapy from time to time.

At 1 year post-collision, Barbara Bumper feels much better but still gets pains in her neck, shoulders and knee that she never experienced before the traffic collision with Mr. Wheeler.

The California Vehicle Code states that a left turning vehicle has a high duty of care and has an obligation to “yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.” This law has been interpreted to mean that a driver “has the duty to ascertain that each lane of traffic is clear before entering it.” The Vehicle Code also states, "A driver having yielded as prescribed in subdivision (a) [quoted above], and having given a signal when and as required by this code, may turn left or complete a U-turn, and the drivers of vehicles approaching the intersection or the entrance to the property or alley from the opposite direction shall yield the right-of-way to the turning vehicle."

Ms. Bumper contends that she was absolutely in the right and that defendant failed to fulfill his obligations under the law, by making an unsafe left turn directly into her lane. She asks the jury to compensate her for her pain, suffering and medical costs in the total amount of $35,000.

Mr. Wheeler claims that Ms. Bumper was speeding and inattentive. Mr. Wheeler states that he was waved on by the two drivers stopped in the number 1 and 2 lanes of travel and then cautiously approached the third lane. He further claims that Ms. Bumper must have been speeding or he would have seen her sooner.

Render your verdict in this case!




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