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How an Air Force Officer Proved that a Utility was Directly Liable for His California Motorcycle Accident and Recovered a $40M+ Settlement

As a motorcyclist, you face many unique risks on the road. If you are injured due to the negligence of someone driving a large vehicle like a commercial truck, the results can be catastrophic or even tragic. When that happens, you may be able to pursue a case against not only the driver but also the commercial entity that owned the truck and hired the driver. Whether it involves pursuing a claim of vicarious liability or direct liability against the business, this part of your case can be essential to getting the full and fair recovery you need for your extreme injury case. To make sure you are doing everything you should to be get the recovery you deserve, be sure to reach out to a knowledgeable San Mateo injury attorney.

J.L. was a motorcyclist who unfortunately found himself in such a circumstance. As the Los Angeles Times reported, J.L. was a captain in the Air Force who was driving his motorcycle through a Los Angeles suburb when he suffered his serious accident. J.L.’s traffic light was red, so he was stopped at the intersection. The vehicle immediately behind J.L., a large gas utility truck, didn’t stop. The truck crashed into J.L.’s motorcycle and the bike (and biker) became wedged beneath the truck. The truck took off, allegedly in an attempt to escape the scene and get on the freeway, meaning that J.L. was dragged for more than 400 feet before onlookers forced the truck driver to stop his vehicle, according to the Times report.

J.L.’s injuries were severe. He lost roughly 40% of his blood and incurred an injury to his right leg so serious that, in additional to major disfigurement, amputation of his leg will, according to his attorneys, remain a threat for the rest of his life. Overall, the captain’s orthopedic and vascular injuries caused the man to remain hospitalized for one month and undergo numerous surgeries, the report indicated.

An injury like this can give rise to a claim for a very large sum of damages. The injured man was a young individual who suffered a permanent injury to his leg. This injury might mean that the man is forever limited in his earning capacity as compared to what he could have made if he’d not been harmed in the accident. The numerous surgeries and extended stay in the hospital meant that J.L. inevitably racked up massive medical expenses. Given the nature of his injury, he’ll likely rack up substantial future medical expenses, too. In addition to those damages, the pain and suffering inflicted upon J.L. as a result of the horrific accident and its aftermath were likely enormous.

How to pursue a direct liability or a vicarious liability claim against a driver’s employer

Even when you have a case like this where you clearly have a large sum of damages that flow from the accident itself, you still need to have proof that the people and/or entities you’ve sued are legally responsible for the accident and legally obligated to pay the damages. In this case, J.L. brought his action against the gas utility and the driver.

There are many different ways that an employer can be liable when an employee causes harm to another. The employer can be what’s called “vicariously” liable for the employee’s action if the employee was proven negligent and was advancing the interests of the employer when he/she caused the accident. An employer, however, can also be directly liable, in some situations, for its own negligence. One way that an employer can be directly to blame is negligent hiring. An employer is liable under this circumstance if it hires an employee that it knew or should have known was a danger but, in spite of that danger, puts him behind the wheel of its vehicle anyway.

In J.L.’s lawsuit, his case against the utility was one of direct liability. J.L. had proof that the gas utility was negligent in hiring the driver to operate a truck as the driver had a history of seizures prior to the utility’s hiring him. By allowing the man to drive the truck, the utility was directly liable for negligent hiring, which it admitted early in the litigation process.

Based upon the captain’s proof of extensive harm and the utility’s admission of liability, the injured man was able to secure a settlement in excess of $40 million, which serves as a further indication of just how damaging these types of motorcycle accidents can be.

If you’ve been seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident, contact the diligent San Mateo motorcycle injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos to find out more about your legal options. Our attorneys have been helping injured people for many years to get everything they deserve. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Good News: Statistics Show a Steep Drop in Fatal Accidents Involving Motorcycles in California, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 26, 2018

California Appeals Court Upholds $2.4M Judgment for Seriously Injured Southern California Motorcyclist, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 6, 2018

Motorcycle Accidents

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