March 31, 2017
In February 2017, a 26-yr.-old man received $56.5 million in a jury lawsuit award from the California Department of Transportation after he was paralyzed while working construction by Highway 101 in Eureka on Aug. 30, 2011. A 1997 Acura plowed into the worker who was partially hidden in a hole off the shoulder of the road.
The man’s legal defense team indicated that CalTrans failed to properly close the lane or place hazard signs along the road, which resulted in dangerous working conditions. A state employee moved a backhoe away from the area that served to further protect the man from traffic. Finally, Caltrans erected a tower light so that drivers were blinded and unable to see the worker.
The jury in Humboldt County Superior Court ruled that Caltrans bore complete responsibility for the man’s injuries after a civil trial lasting about 10 weeks. The verdict is reportedly the largest of its kind for dangerous conditions in the state’s history.
The man, who suffered significant brain injuries, became a quadriplegic after the accident and now resides with his parents. His mother reported that he cannot speak but says he knows what is going on around him. She indicated that the verdict has brought them a sense of closure, and she feels that her son has finally seen justice.
She was reportedly shocked at the large verdict and appreciated the efforts put forth by their legal team, the judge and the jury who took the time to render a fair award. The family will use the money to upgrade the man’s technology related to his medical care, which will help him communicate.
Caltrans expressed their disappointment with the ruling in public statement. They stated that a driver mistakenly drove into the work zone. They further added that the Caltrans employees also suffered because of the severity of the incident. They are considering other options related to the case, which could mean a possible appeal of the verdict although they did not specify what course of action they would take.
If you feel that you or a loved one was injured in an accident through no fault of your own, contact our firm about your personal injury case.