Can you imagine what your life would be like after losing a limb? What do you think it would be like to have an artificial hand or foot? Do you think that your life would be the same?
To the average American, the answer to each of these questions is “no.” Life-changing accidents happen every day in this country, and many are the result of reckless driving. One of the most dangerous types of accidents involves a motorcycle, which is a machine designed exclusively for speed and agility. These vehicles do not, however, place a premium on the rider’s safety.
Thousands of motorcyclists in the United States die each and every year in accidents. In fact, Massachusetts motorcycle riders are thirty-nine times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than are passengers in a car. These riders are nine times more likely to be seriously injured in these accidents. With the increasing number of people riding motorcycles it is important to recognize that motorcyclists should be afforded special deference on American streets and roads. Reckless or irresponsible driving can often result in a serious injury or even a wrongful death.
In May of 2011, Jim Smetana was riding his motorcycle on Route 23 in West Milford, New Jersey. Route 23 was a highway notorious for its sharp curves and treacherous hills. In fact, according to the West Milford Police, the road was the site of 470 accidents between 2004 and 2014.
According to northjersey.com, Smetana was riding his motorcycle on a warm, spring day when he suddenly lost control of his bike on a sharp curve. Before he knew it, he was flying across the road and slammed into the guardrail on the left side of the road. Somehow, Smetana managed to stay on the motorcycle. He stopped to assess the damage to his bike, and was shocked to find that his boot was missing. Hitting the metal guardrail caused his left leg to be ripped off of his body from the knee down.
After losing his leg in the accident, Smetana filed a personal injury lawsuit against the New Jersey Department of Transportation. He alleged that the road way was inherently dangerous, and that the Department had done nothing to fix the problem. Soon thereafter, the state settled with Smetana for $2.5 million.