While wandering the depths of YouTube, I stumbled across this video of a man's appearance on Judge Judy. The case involves a cyclist, a dog, and a crash. I will not go into any more detail to keep the verdict secret.
What are your thoughts on the video? Did he ask for enough in his settlement? We're the dog owners at fault? Do you have any anger towards the dog owners? Have you experienced owners like this before?
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Judgement for the plaintiff is correct. $3,000 is the normal limit for small claims court such as Judge Judy. She was, of course, playing for the cameras with her staged outbursts.
Plaintiff should NOT have made ANY statements to the Defendant, until ALL costs have been added. The Plaintiff might have suffered brain damage which could cause future problems and not know it. A competant personal injury attorney would have a doctor examine the Plaintiff, and then, sue in regular civil court for COMPLETE damages, if warranted. Read that, PROFITABLE for the attorney.
Kudos to the defense: Blame the cyclist. If this had gone to a normal jury trial, of 12 MOTORISTS, in civil court, the Plaintiff might have gotten SCREWED royally. But, the homeowner's insurance company might not have allow the case to go that far, before settling. The Plaintiff's damages, without serious brain injury, wouldn't be worth the lawyers' time to go to jury trial.
The defense got off pretty lucky for all of $3,000, if the Plaintiff got brain damage, and, NOT know it.
From what I've seen of a cyclist broadsiding a fairly large dog, 60-70 lbs, at speed, it's a pretty SERIOUS hit. Fork and frame bent. The rider does a MEAN impersonation of Superman. Without a helmet, he's TOAST.
Tip to anyone dinged royally, talk to a competant personal injury attorney FIRST. They will charge 33%, by most state laws, on recovery only. You could be the SCREWEE, not the SCREWER.
No doubt the Plaintiff in this case probably talked to one first. The man seems like a pretty intelligent professional type, maybe an architect, programmer, on the geeky side.
He don't know too much about the legal system. Probably never been arrested. Maybe just a traffic or parking ticket in college.
Possibly because his medical injuries are limited, the lawyer probably told them to take it to small claims.
But, from his wife's statement to the defense about the $500 settlement, it is possible they did NOT.
I am NOT a duly licensed attorney. So, don't take this as legal advice. This is more like a combination of my own personal experiences in courtrooms of various stripes.
One more thought: The defense does NOT seem too likely to pay. I see another case in another courtroom for garnishing wages coming on.
To avoid the hassles, sue the homeowner's insurance company. They are the ones with the deep pockets. And, for 3G's, it's cheaper for them to just pay up, instead of sending in a legal eagle, billing at 500 clams per hour.
Just to make one of them show up in small claims court is a BIG deal. They won't. Instead, they'll send an adjuster, who will just write you a check, right outside the courtroom, after the Judge calls the case.
The adjuster won't even argue the case. He'll just ask the Judge for conference. Judge grants conference.
Everybody goes outside, except the Judge, who's onto the next spat. And, you get a check. Shake hands. Problem solved.
Too many irresponsible dog owners everywhere. In biking around the country, I have been chased by dogs often and have been surprised how far they will run. Along Chicago's lake front, I once hit a larger 70 lb dog, off leash, but was able to crash without any serious injuries-damage.
Owners of unfenced, unleashed, etc. canines should be held responsible for obvious carelessness and the serious hazards created. Perhaps doggy insurance should be the law of the land to keep these owneres accountable. That would certainly change the equation of injustices.
I'm the biker in the video. I never spoke with an attorney about the matter. It became evident early on that the defendants didn't have a lot of extra cash laying around and they were renting the home they were staying in...doubtful that they had any sort of insurance policy to tap into. All I ever wanted was for them to meet me half way. They never budged an inch in my direction.
The costs to get my bike fixed were $1,100. The other bills were for the ambulance ride and co-pays as my health insurance covered nearly all of my costs.
Several months went by between the time of the crash and filing a law suit with the county. I was reasonably sure that there were no lingering affects from the crash aside from a strong paranoia that another dog would jump out in front of me when I was riding...for real. It took two years for those fears to subside.
Judge Judy was pretty cool with us. A bit of my testimony was left out but for the most part they did a good job of editing it together.
Just so you know...the defendants don't actually have to pay the judgement against them. The show picks up the tab for that and all related expenses for travel, food and lodging.