$21.5 Million Verdict Awarded After Motorcycle Crash on California 405 Freeway Caught on Video
Earlier this month a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury awarded $21,503,420.48 to a motorcyclist hit by a car on California’s 405 Freeway near Westminster. Video footage captured the crash, and is said to have been a major factor in the significant settlement obtained by the driver’s attorneys from Panish, Shea & Boyle LLP, a personal injury firm based in Los Angeles.
According a statement released by his attorneys, on February 8, 2018, 28-year-old Mathew Rada sustained “catastrophic injuries” after being struck by a Kia Optima illegally exiting an HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) carpool lane without signaling. A GoPro camera secured to the helmet of another motorcyclist captured the crash on video.
In the video, Rada appears to be struck by the Kia Optima, forcing him to careen uncontrollably across multiple lanes and hit a passing flatbed trailer as sparks fly and the motorcycle skids across the freeway. Rada was eventually ejected from his motorcycle, and left sprawled out on the pavement. He sustained severe injuries ranging from a fractured right femur, multiple fractures in the right hand, and an L1 compression fracture. The injuries required several surgeries and a two-week hospitalization at UC Irvine Medical Center.
Immediately following the crash, the video shows the GoPro motorcyclist and the Kia Optima driver pulling over to aid a clearly injured Rada. Additional drivers can be seen pulling over to assist.
Closer analysis of the video footage confirms that the Kia Optima was driving in the HOV lane when it suddenly attempted to merge to the right — into the lane occupied by Rada’s motorcycle — without signaling. The Kia struck Rada’s motorcycle and propelled him into the passing flatbed truck.
The at-fault driver of the Kia was identified as an employee of Irvine, California, automotive company, Hardin Irvine Automotive Inc. Both the company and the driver, Justin Dimapasac, were named as defendants in the lawsuit filed in March 2018 in Los Angeles County.
Defense attorneys admitted liability before the trial began, which meant the jury’s singular responsibility was to assess Rada’s damages. Court papers indicated, “The initial impact sent [the] plaintiff careening across three lanes of the 405 freeway into a passing flatbed trailer.” Additionally, court papers alleged Dimapasac was test-driving a customer’s Kia Optima, and therefore should not have been driving in the HOV lane.
The lawsuit filing stated that Rada suffered “life-changing injuries in the collision, including several orthopedic fractures requiring multiple surgeries, chronic pain, and commensurate mental and emotional distress.”
The jury awarded Rada with $3,503,420.48 in economic damages, and $18,000,000 in noneconomic damages, for a total of $21,503,420.48. The pretrial offer made by the defendants is reported to have been $4,000,001.
Defendants Hardin Irvine Automotive Inc. and Justin Dimapasac were represented by Kurt A. Schlichter, William A. Percy, and Roberto R. Martinez of Schlichter & Shonack, LLP.
Matthew Rada was represented by Brian Panish, Andrew Owen, and Matthew Stumpf of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP.