WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Superior Court jury has awarded $8 million in damages to a woman whose leg was permanently disfigured four years ago in a motorcycle accident.

The award, handed down Thursday, is believed to be the largest ever in the District of Columbia.

Linda Couse, 26, was riding on the back of a motorcycle that was hit by a car pulling out of a parking lot in Washington on July 11, 1981. She and the driver of the motorcycle were thrown. The muscle tissue in her leg was destroyed to the bone, according to the woman's attorney, Jack Olender.

The verdict ''demonstrates that the public placed proper value on human life and limb ... Nobody would take the mangled, damaged leg that she has for $8 million if you took it out on the street,'' Olender said.

Ms. Couse's left leg is now a half inch shorter than the right one and she must wear an orthopedic brace, she said.

Ms. Couse's medical expenses amounted to $28,000. She filed a $2 million lawsuit against the driver of the car, claiming Miriam Shuchman of West Haven, Conn., ''failed to yield the right of way, failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to pay full time and attention to traffic under the circumstances.''

Ms. Shuchman denied any negligence and said the motorcycle driver was driving too fast. Ms. Shuchman said she was driving about 5 mph and braked immediately when she saw the motorcycle.