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.
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.
your verdict in this case!