Jury Orders Caltrans to Pay $56.5 Million to Paralyzed Worker
A jury has awarded $56.5 million in damages to Kyle Anderson, a worker who was only 20 years old in 2011 when he was injured in an accident that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, the Humboldt County jury delivered the verdict against Caltrans, the second big one that went against their favor in just four weeks. Back in January, the department was ordered to pay $35 million to a UCLA football player who was injured in an intersection that he argued was poorly designed.
Jury Says CalTrans 100 percent at Fault
Anderson was working for All Phase Excavating in 2011 on a Caltrans wiring project on Highway 101 in Eureka. As he was working in a trench during the early morning hours, a car drifted on to the shoulder and struck him. His attorney, Russell Reiner, argued that Caltrans engineers overseeing the project, rejected basic safety precautions such as closing a lane or parking a large vehicle in the shoulder to protect workers. Reiner also argued that the Caltrans team positioned a light in such a manner that it became a danger to passing drivers.
After a trial, which lasted more than two months, jurors assigned 100 percent of the fault for the incident to Caltrans. The jury did find that the driver was negligent, but determined that her error was not a substantial factor in causing the harm Anderson suffered. Anderson has been diagnosed with “locked in” syndrome, which is where a person is conscious, but unable to communicate. The jury’s award includes compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost earnings and pain and suffering. Caltrans has maintained that the incident was the driver’s fault and has said it may appeal the jury verdict.
Justice for Injured Victims
This case is an example of the catastrophic injuries workers can suffer on the job as they work on road projects. In this case, jurors found that it was Caltrans’s duty and obligation to keep workers safe, particularly as they were working in the dark in trenches. A catastrophic injury can prove devastating not only for the person who suffers the injury, but for family members who must now take care of the victim for the rest of his or her life.
Victims in such cases are often unable to work or earn a livelihood and are left permanently disabled. We hope this judgment will give Kyle Anderson and his family the resources they need to maintain his quality of life and meet his future healthcare needs.