The Southern California Gas Co. will pay $46 million to a motorcyclist hit by an employee driving a company pickup truck. The employee had a history of epileptic seizures, and hit the biker who was stopped at a stoplight in Hawthorn, California on February 13. Despite having his license suspended in 2012, the driver eventually returned to work even though he continued to have seizures. The staff at SoCal Gas were well aware of his condition and still elected to let him drive a company vehicle even after having a seizure at work.
According to reports, the truck driver hit the biker from behind and then dragged the victim over 430 feet. He only stopped driving when fellow drivers surrounded the car and forced him to stop as he headed towards a freeway entrance ramp. The driver subsequently pleaded guilty for hit and run.
Victim was military officer with a new family
The victim was a 30-year-old U.S. Air Force Captain stationed at the nearby Los Angeles Air Force base in nearby El Segundo. Injuries include a 40 percent loss of blood and a potential loss of a leg. He has gone through several surgeries and has several more to go for his recovery. The victim was married just six months and the couple is expecting its first child.
The jury makes its decision
All these details led a jury to award the victim and his family the $46 million. During the 27-day trial, the defense offered a $9 million dollar settlement. The jury rejected this and also contemplated additional punitive damages, which traditionally are a much higher amount than compensatory damages. SoCal Gas opted to settle before punitive damages were announced.
The right attorney for the job
Instead of settling for what the defense was offering, the victim got about five times as much compensation by litigating his case. It is unfortunate that the crash ever happened, but it is clear to all that the driver should not have been behind the wheel. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney was able to make this point clear, thus securing the compensation the family will need for the long recovery of the victim.