Caltrans Verdicts and Settlements


Verdict of $37 million vs Caltrans for paralyzed contractor 

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has agreed to pay $37 million to a man who was paralyzed while working on a freeway project. In 2011, Kyle Anderson was working on Highway 101 in Eureka, California. He was crouched in a trench when a Caltrans driver crossed onto the shoulder and struck him. This left Anderson quadriplegic, with "locked-in" syndrome - meaning he is conscious but cannot move or communicate. The Humboldt County Superior Court jury decided that Caltrans was entirely responsible for Anderson's injuries. The jury initially decided that Caltrans owed Anderson's family $56.5 million. However, on appeal, a $37 million settlement was decided on the first day of proceedings. Anderson's lifetime medical costs are expected to total $18 million, which involves providing him with high-tech equipment allowing him to communicate with his eyes by looking at images on a computer screen.

$14.2 million settlement against Caltrans for dangerous roads

A group of motorcyclists were travelling north on Route 33 in Ojal when another group of riders travelling south passed them hitting one of the motorcyclists head-on, killing him. The other rider had crossed over and curved round the bend too fast because there were no warning signs indicating that he was to experience an unusual hairpin curve and needed to reduce his speed to 30mph. At the Ventura County Superior Court it was established that the State was aware the location of the crash needed critical warning signs and numerous preventable accidents had occurred at this specific location because of its unusual characteristics. The jury agreed that the lack of warning signs was the primary cause of the accident and awarded the family $14.2 million in wrongful death damages. During proceedings, the court also discovered that there was a 2-year backlog in getting accident data into Caltrans' database, which means that Caltrans was not seeing the number of accidents occurring at various locations in real-time. 

$9.1 million verdict against Caltrans for cyclist

In July 2014, an experienced cyclist was cycling home on the designated bicycle lane. He was forced to swerve to avoid a pile of rocks and sand on the pavement and was struck by the side mirror of a passing truck, causing him to lose control and crash. He suffered significant brain damage and was left unable to work. It was found that Caltrans (who owns the highway) had contracted with the city of Los Angeles to sweep the pavement on a monthly basis to keep it free from debris. The location where the accident occurred was a popular path for bicyclists, and officials are reported to have been aware for years that debris from the hills often creates hazardous conditions on the pathway and highway. City sweepers that testified at the trial admitted that they often swept around rocks and debris near the cliff, rather than remove it. Ultimately, the jury found Caltrans 40% liable, and the city of Los Angeles 60% liable.

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