On August 7, 2014, Angel Diaz was driving his motorcycle on North Avenue in New Rochelle when he collided with a car driving in the same direction and was thrown from his bike to the roadway. Diaz sustained a serious ankle injury and sued the other driver claiming she was fully at fault for the accident.
A Westchester County jury determined that both parties caused the crash – plaintiff 55%, defendant 45% – and awarded (before apportionment) pain and suffering damages in the sum of $230,000 ($162,500 past – three years, $67,500 future – 40 years).
Plaintiff’s post-trial motion arguing that the damages award is inadequate was denied by the presiding judge whose opinion was affirmed by the appellate court in Diaz v. Dadabo (2d Dept. 2019).
Here are the injury details:
- distal superior articular fibula fracture dislocation four inches above the ankle joint
- ruptured deltoid and syndesmotic ligaments between tibia and fibula
- open reduction internal fixation surgery to implant a six inch metal plate and seven screws
- post-operative cerebral spinal fluid leak causing severe headaches until epidural blood patch procedure eight days later to extract blood from arm and inject into cervical spine to clot the blood
- ankle to knee cast for eight months followed by a cam boot for about three months and a few months of physical therapy
- continued complaints of pain, unable to run or take long walks
The defendant argued that plaintiff made an excellent recovery – he resumed motorcycle riding and working out within seven months, he stopped all medical treatment for his injuries about 13 months after the accident and both his surgeon and the defense expert agreed that it is unlikely plaintiff will need any further surgery.
- Plaintiff, 30 years old at the time of the accident, had served three tours of duty in Iraq as an infantryman with the U.S. Army.
- In closing arguments, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award damages in the sum of $1,200,000. Defense counsel suggested $150,000 as the “maximun fair value” for plaintiff’s past pain and suffering and nothing at all for the future.