Establishing Fault Against A Driver for A Motorcycle Crash

Heinrich Law’s investigation and litigation experience proved an auto driver’s negligence caused terrible injuries

Robinson v. United States of America


Heinrich Law’s client, John Robinson, was carefully riding his motorcycle in the left fast lane on a major Bay Area freeway during commute hours.

In an effort to avoid a sudden accident ahead, Kornpavee Rowell, a driver in the employ of the United States Coast Guard, veered into Mr. Robinson’s lane and then stopped her car suddenly. As a result, Robinson’s motorcycle crashed into the back of her car, catapulting him over it, causing serious injuries.

Our client’s injuries included: a mild traumatic brain injury and hemorrhage, multiple fractures, and a punctured lung. The collision caused migraine headaches and severe emotional distress. Mr. Robinson’s injuries required multiple surgeries. He was unable to resume his chosen field of work and has had to find a new career.


It can be difficult to win motorcycle accident cases due to the inherent bias people have against motorcycle riders. Mr. Robinson had a clear history of being a careful and cautious motorcycle rider, however, he was knocked unconscious due to the collision and could not recall what happened. Heinrich Law needed to:

  • Recreate the movements and actions of the parties leading up to the collision;
  • Prove the injuries our client sustained were severe; and
  • Prove that Ms. Rowell caused the accident by making an unsafe lane change.


Investigation that solved the mystery

The heart of Heinrich Law’s victory was our success in recreating the events that led up to the collision.

Heinrich Law identified and deposed two pivotal eyewitnesses. The first observed Mr. Robinson immediately prior to the accident, driving at a safe speed within his lane of travel. The second witness observed Ms. Rowell’s car veer left into Mr. Robinson’s lane, and saw Mr. Robinson hit the back of the car which caused him to be propelled over it.

Heinrich Law further ascertained that as Ms. Rowell stopped her car, she was unaware of her surroundings. She stumbled several times in deposition, frequently admitting “I did not pay attention.” In our case work up, we rejected and defeated her erroneous belief and her attorneys’ contention that if someone ran into her car, she was not at fault, even though it was her sudden lane change and recklessness that caused the collision.

Based on testimony of Ms. Rowell, witnesses testimony, and the position in which Ms. Rowell’s car came to rest at the accident scene, we were able to prove that Ms. Rowell did, in fact, make an ill-advised lane change and would more likely than not be found liable were the case to go to trial.

Careful analysis and presentation of applicable points of law

Once the facts of the case were established based on testimony under oath and physical evidence, Heinrich Law argued the points of law that established the negligence of Ms. Rowell.

Specifically, we identified the applicable sections of the California Civil and Vehicle Codes that established Ms. Rowell’s negligence for failing to pay attention and for failing to use skills of a reasonably prudent driver.

Heinrich Law further established that:

  • Mr. Robinson likely had no responsibility for the accident, despite having no recall of what happened; and
  • The traffic collision report, which found Mr. Robinson solely at fault, would be inadmissible at trial due to the reporting officer’s failure to take measurements at the accident’s scene, and his failure to properly reconstruct the collision. Expert witness testimony, lay witness testimony, and the physical evidence clearly contradicted the slipshod report and findings of the rookie officer.
Demonstration of impact of the injuries on Mr. Robinson’s life and career

Our client’s injuries were serious and complex.

Immediately after the accident, Mr. Robinson underwent emergency surgery and treatments for his brain bleed. He remained in the ICE for a week. Over the next couple of years, he underwent further surgery, extensive physical therapy, and neurological treatment.

Experts projected future medical expenses would be incurred. They also concluded that Mr. Robinson would never be able to return to his career as a luthier (a builder of musical instruments) due to the lack of strength and dexterity in his hands caused by the accident.


Heinrich Law resolved this exceedingly difficult case for $750,000 at a pre-trial mandatory settlement conference, nearly four years after the case had been filed.

If youhave been seriously injured in amotorcycle accident that you believe was caused bysomeone else, please call us. The consultation is free to you.