An item about a very long-running lawsuit recently caught my eye as a Cooper City motorcycle crash attorney. As the Tampa Tribune reported Dec. 16 the Florida Supreme Court has sent a lawsuit back to an appeals court, prolonging a battle between the city of Tampa and a motorcyclist who alleges he was permanently disabled by city employees’ negligence. Ramiro Companioni was badly injured in 1996 when his motorcycle hit the back of a water truck that had pulled in front of him. He was awarded nearly $18 million by a jury in 2004, but has not collected any money because the case has been on appeal for the last six years. In the most recent move, the state Supreme Court asked the Second District Court of Appeal, a lower court, to consider whether the actions of Companioni’s former attorney require a new trial.
Companioni was injured in November of 1996, when a Tampa water truck allegedly pulled across three lanes of traffic and into his motorcycle’s path. The resulting accident nearly required doctors to amputate his legs and he now has trouble bending at the waist and right knee, according to a 2007 article from the St. Petersburg Times. In his lawsuit, he said he couldn’t continue working as a chef because of his disabilities; the 2007 article said he sells hot dogs at baseball games and car dealerships. His $18 million verdict was the highest verdict ever won against the city of Tampa, but the case has been on appeal on multiple grounds — originally because two jurors in the original trial lied about past criminal convictions. Even if the matter is finished, Campinioni probably won’t collect the full amount because cities may not pay more than $100,000 in settlements without authorization from the state legislature.
As a North Lauderdale motorcycle injury lawyer, I’m disappointed to read that this man is still suffering the financial effects of this crash more than 14 years later. When people are injured through no fault of their own in Florida, state law allows them to recover financial compensation from the person whose unsafe or illegal behavior caused the injury. In this case, a jury decided that was the city after a fair and free trial. By endlessly appealing the verdict, the city is denying Companioni this compensation, which is intended to help him deal with the effects of the crash. In a motorcycle accident claim, that generally means very high medical costs, some of which can go on for the rest of the victim’s life — as seems to be the case with Companioni. It also means compensation for lost income from missing work or being forced to change jobs, destroyed property and the physical and emotional pain of the injury and any disability it causes.
I am not just a Sunrise motorcycle accident attorney — I am also a motorcyclist. That’s part of why Cohn, Smith & Cohn has a special focus on representing victims of serious motorcycle accidents, and their families. Because motorcyclists are so much more vulnerable than drivers, they are frequently very careful on the roads — only to be hit anyway because a driver without that incentive simply wasn’t paying attention. To make matters worse, insurance companies, juries and others sometimes blame riders for their own injuries because of prejudice and wrong ideas about motorcycles — and in the case of the insurance companies, a desire to get out of paying what they legally owe. We fight hard for the rights of riders who are in this situation, to get them compensation they can use to get needed medical care and make ends meet as they heal.
If you or someone you love was seriously hurt in a crash you know you didn’t cause, Cohn, Smith & Cohn can help. To learn more or set up a free consultation, contact us through the Internet or call (954) 431-8100 today.