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Montana driver jailed and ordered to pay amputee motorcyclist

Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to injury than occupants of other vehicles on Montana's roads. While bikers should always be alert to other vehicles, drivers of trucks and cars also have to do their part and remain bike-aware. It goes without saying that drunk driving can severely diminish such awareness.

In July 2012, at an intersection in Bigfork, a pickup truck collided with a motorcycle, throwing the couple on the bike 42 feet. At the scene of the accident, the 48-year-old pickup driver admitted that he'd been drinking, and his blood-alcohol level was determined to be well above Montana's legal limit.

The couple on the bike were both injured, and it was necessary to amputate part of the wife's left leg. The amputation means she is faced with the expense of prosthetics for the remainder of her life, as well as the discomfort of phantom pains and the cost of medication, counseling and therapy.

In the recent criminal trial, the driver of the truck pleaded guilty to the felony crime of negligent vehicular assault. He claimed that he hadn't seen the motorcycle because he was watching pedestrians. He showed remorse and apologized to the couple, and his employer tried to vouch for his good character. The male victim commented in his testimony that the defendant's character was irrelevant in this avoidable accident, and the wife testified about the lifetime of expenses and discomfort ahead of her.

The court ordered the truck driver to pay restitution of $618,000 to the woman. The amount was about halfway between the amount the prosecution asked for and the amount the defense attorney proposed. The judge awarded the money for medical expenses, loss of wages and future expenses the woman will incur. The defendant was also sentenced to four years in prison.

Since these damages were awarded in the criminal trial, the couple may well be granted further compensation in the lawsuit they have filed. In cases like this, in order to maximize the compensation for damages, victims of motorcycle accidents should seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney to effectively navigate the legal system.

Source: Daily Inter Lake, "Payment ordered in amputation settlement," Jesse Davis, March 20, 2014

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