Verdict: $20.8M Auto Case
Catastrophic Compound Injuries
The moment was captured on dashcam footage. The motorcyclist was 26-year old Sean Hurley. Rushed to hospital by first responders, Hurley had suffered significant catastrophic compound injuries to his legs and his hip that required eight extensive surgeries.
As a consequence, one of Hurley’s legs is now shorter than the other. Aside from requiring specialized footwear to walk, his long-term prognosis is intensive medical treatment and monitoring for the rest of his life.
Hurley’s recovery was and will continue to be long and slow. He would soon learn that the forever injuries he had incurred would irrevocably change his life. Young, energetic and athletic before the crash, Hurley had loved sports, riding his motorcycle, playing with his dogs. The simplest activities like walking required painful rehabilitation. He could no longer shower unassisted and a night-time bathroom visit now required him to put on specialized shoes.
The Power of Police Dashcam Evidence
It would be three and a half years before Hurley’s case would be heard before a court over a short period of just four days.
Despite video evidence from Deputy Orrizzi’s dash camera, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department disputed liability. Most damaging, according to Hurley’s attorney Ryan Rudd of Morgan & Morgan, was the assertion by the defendant’s legal team that Hurley had allegedly been traveling a few miles an hour over the speed limit, that he may have been wearing earbuds, and that may have had an issue with his front brake at the time of the collision.
“I think the biggest obstacles that we faced were the liability issues. The fact that the defendants in this particular case were attempting to do anything and everything to present arguments to a jury that our client was somehow responsible for this terrible crash and his own injuries.”
– Ryan Rudd
Prior to trial, an offer of $250,000 was extended to Hurley to settle the case. “It was not something that we or Mr. Hurley thought was anywhere near what his damages were and would be for the rest of his life,” Rudd notes. “So it wasn’t a very tough decision to decline the offer.”
Ultimately, the video footage of the accident was the most crucial piece of evidence, allowing the Morgan & Morgan team to show, for example, that it was necessary for Hurly to speed up just before the impact in order to try to avoid a collision.
Resonating with the Jury
Taking into account Hurley’s projected life expectancy, ongoing health issues, emotional trauma and the future medical procedures he would require, Rudd and team were able to present their client’s human damages in a way that resonated with the six jury members. This was their opportunity to deliver justice. Recognizing the impact of the accident on his life, the jury awarded Hurley a total of $20,839,757 in damages. “There’s no price that you could put on somebody’s health,” Rudd added, “but, ultimately, we believe justice was obtained in this particular case.”