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New Jersey jury orders $19.3 million for motorcycle crash

A jury’s verdict is never a sure thing. Bergen County civil cases may be resolved through settlements before any trial takes place. Settlements may be acceptable solutions for plaintiffs, who want a definitive outcome but want to avoid the stress of reliving the details of an accident in a liability trial.

Neither party can be forced to accept a settlement. However, litigants assume risk by pressing for an uncertain decision from a jury rather than agreeing to a known legal result.

A recent $19.3 million jury award will benefit the victim of a Sussex County motorcycle accident and his wife. The motorcyclist, now 62, was seriously injured in March 2010 when his bike was rear-ended on Route 23. The Vernon spouses were each assigned a portion of the damages — $15.5 million for the injured husband and $3.8 million for his spouse.

Spouses may not experience physical harm when a loved one is hurt in an accident, but there is collateral damage. An injured spouse’s medical costs and wage losses can have an immediate, unfavorable impact on family finances. The uninjured spouse suffers losses when a partner lacks the ability to contribute to a marriage as in the past -– emotionally, sexually and as a parent.

The Vernon motorcyclist was diagnosed with shoulder, back and neck injuries. Spinal injuries can require extensive treatment, lengthy rehabilitation and costly surgeries. Many back injuries cause long-term or life-long disability that prevents an accident victim from enjoying life, returning to work and earning an income.

Settlements eliminate the unpredictability of a trial. In some cases, taking the case to a jury may be preferable. However, only a well-advised plaintiff can decide whether a settlement is satisfactory.

Source: The Star-Ledger, “Sussex jury awards $19.3M to Vernon couple in motorcycle accident” Joe Moszczynski, May. 22, 2014

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