October 6, 2016
In June 2016, a Los Angeles jury awarded a retired man $2.3 million after a city employee ran over him, resulting in serious injuries. The victim, Jonathan Soto, 66, suffered fractures to four vertebrae and a broken pelvis in the Feb. 4, 2014 incident. Soto filed the lawsuit against the truck driver, who worked for the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine, on Oct. 1, 2014. The city worker was driving his vehicle on the beach, performing his job duties, including picking up trash, when he hit Soto.
The lawsuit claimed that the driver, Stanley Willie Delaney, was speeding and negligent as he operated the vehicle. He further charged that a passenger in the vehicle distracted Delaney. A medical expert for the plaintiff testified that medical costs totaled $253,642 in addition to non-economic losses.
The defendant countered that Soto was sleeping in a location with known traffic. He added that the victim did not suffer lasting injuries and completely recovered after the accident. The defense called another medical expert to testify.
The plaintiff and defendant discussed a settlement but could not agree on amounts. The plaintiff requested $1.6 million while the defendant countered with $640,000. After a six-day trial, the jury spent a day deliberating before making their decision to award the plaintiff $2,328,954.50. They specified $253,642 for medical bills with the remainder going toward non-economic losses for Soto.
California law holds a public employee responsible for causing injuries to another party while at work if the other party could have sued if the employee committed the same actions while not working. Since he was on the job, Soto could legally file a lawsuit against Soto and the city. The legal term for this is vicarious liability. This gives the plaintiff the right to collect compensation for any losses they suffered.
A second aspect of the case, course and scope of employment, means that the employee was performing his or her job duties while on the clock. The plaintiff sustained an injury during the said performance of the employee’s duties, which benefited the employer in some fashion. Delaney was picking up trash as a routine part of his job, which benefited the city, so the lawsuit met this standard as well.
John Rosenbaum is an Orange County Personal Injury and Workers Compensation attorney with over a 99% success rate. If you might be in need of compensation, give our offices a call and receive a free consultation regarding your case.