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Motorcyclist Awarded $3.85 Million in Crash Suit

September 8, 2011

A former Marine has been awarded a $3.85 million settlement in his motorcycle accident case.


A former Marine that was seriously injured when a flatbed truck hit the motorcycle that he was riding has been awarded a $3.85 million accident settlement, the majority of which will be paid by the national restaurant chain Applebee’s.

David M. Combs, 51, was riding his motorcycle when a flatbed truck came around a corner and struck his Harley Davidson. Combs suffered serious injuries, including the amputation of his right leg, severe internal injuries, and fractured bones. He has since undergone several surgeries to repair the damage caused by the accident.

“I was a power lifter and body builder before this happened,” Combs, who mostly relies on a wheelchair to get around, said. “Now my arms are pretty much useless. What I used to do with 50- or 60-pound dumbbells, I now do with five or 10 pounds.”

The driver of the truck, Michael C. Clark, was found to have a .19 blood alcohol level after the crash occurred. According to court documents, he had consumed three whiskey and 7-Ups in one hour at a nearby Applebee’s prior to the crash.

The Settlement

After the accident, Combs filed suit against Clark, Applebee’s, and the owner of the flatbed truck, Kimberly Ward. Last month, the parties named in the suit agreed to the $3.85 million settlement.

In affidavits for the case, Kimberly Ward maintained that she was not aware that Clark was driving her truck at the time of the accident. Nevertheless, her insurance policy will cover $100,000 of Comb’s settlement.

Applebee’s is responsible for $3.75 million, the vast majority of the damages in the lawsuit. Because the restaurant chain elected to settle the case, they will avoid a potentially costly trial in which the plaintiff’s attorneys would try to show that Clark was clearly intoxicated while being served alcohol. The attorney that handled the case for Applebee’s had no comment on the settlement.

Clark’s Testimony and Punishment

Clark said in a sworn deposition testimony that he had not been drinking prior to consuming alcohol at Applebee’s.

However, Heather Long, the director of Medical Toxicology for Albany Medical Center, found that Clark registered the .19 blood alcohol content (BAC) more than two-and-a-half hours after leaving the restaurant. She calculated that his BAC was probably between .23 and .296 percent when he left Applebee’s. This indicates that Clark had more than three drinks.

“If you serve a visibly intoxicated person and that person injures a third person, you are legally responsible for their actions,” said David Everett, Combs’ attorney.

Although Clark is not responsible for covering any portion of the monetary settlement, he is serving a one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half year sentence for the felonies he committed: first-degree vehicular assault, second-degree vehicular assault, and aggravated vehicular assault.

But Clark’s jail time and the monetary settlement do not provide Combs with closure.

“The guy that ran me over is going to get out, and he is probably going to kill someone next time,” Combs said. “What the money means is that I will not lose my house. I’ll never be the person I was before this.”

If you have been injured in an accident, it is in your best interest to consult an injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can review your case and determine if you should move forward with legal action.

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