Jury Verdict in the Amount of $52.5 Million to Paralyzed Bicyclist
On January 27, 2017, Gary Suydam was riding his bicycle home from work when he was struck by two cars, paralyzing him forever.
Photo Credit: Lakewood Police Department
According to the Denver Post, Suydam, age 51, crossed Wadsworth Boulevard in Denver, Colorado with a green light- the right of way for pedestrians to cross the street. As he began to cross, a car turned left from the opposite side of the intersection, colliding with Suydam and sending him to the ground. Although driver Chelsea Brewer stopped immediately, a second driver, Stephen Tecmire, continued through the intersection. According to police reports, Tecmire’s car wheel ran over Suydam’s head and proceeded to drag him several feet along the road. Tecmire later claimed that he was unaware of the accident and left the crime scene unknowingly.
Since the crash, Suydam has been unable to move his hands or his lower body. Although paralyzed, Suydam credits his life to the fact that he was wearing a helmet.
Suydam and his wife knew they wanted to seek damages from the life-changing accident, resulting in a lawsuit being filed later in 2017. The case finally went to trial in February 2019 which the defendants listed as Chelsea Brewer and LFI Fort Pierce, Brewer’s employer.
Because Brewer was transporting multiple coworkers, company supplies, and financial documents en route to her company’s office, Suydam’s attorneys argued that the employer failed to train Brewer to drive and should be held accountable for the damages.
After three hours of jury deliberation, it was decided that Suydam’s medical bills, lost wages, and other economic costs amounted to $15.7 million. However, Suydam and his family lost more than just wages and costs after the accident. The jury also awarded $32.8 million for physical impairment damages, including things like lost experiences and the inability to do the things he loved, like biking and hiking in the mountains.
Stephen Tecmire, the second driver leaving the scene, was deemed responsible for 10 percent of Suydam’s injuries and was sentenced to five years in prison by the Colorado jury. According to Tecmire’s attorney, he will not be held liable for any financial damages to Suydam.
The entirety of the $52.5 million falls on Brewer and her employer, the Labor Force franchise.
One year after the crash, Suydam returned to work and is taking things day-by-day. He hopes to regain movement in his arms and regularly participates in physical therapy. Although Suydam tries to look at his situation as light heartedly as possible, he remains frustrated that this situation could have been avoided.
While talking to the Denverite, Suydam expressed, “People are in a hurry, you know?” he says. “They first of all think, ‘It’ll never happen to me. I can drive this way. I can sneak through this yellow light.’ They never think it can cause an accident.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were nearly 467,000 bicycle-related injuries in the United States in 2015. Other studies have claimed that bicycle injuries account for 1.2 million doctor’s clinic visits, 580,000 emergency department visits, 23,000 hospital admissions and 900 deaths each year.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a bicycle accident in Ohio, do not wait to contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney. If you have questions or concerns, fill out our contact form for a free consultation with one of our expert attorneys or call us at (216)-285-9991 today.