Ladder in Highway Causes Catastrophic Car Accident

Synopsis

On Aug. 27, 2010, a 26-year-old driver and his passenger were driving northbound on U.S. Highway 101 in the carpool lane. Suddenly and without warning, the driver saw a 28-foot extension ladder on the road in front of his vehicle. The driver drove onto the center median to avoid colliding with the ladder or surrounding vehicles, but in so doing, he lost control of his car and collided with the center divider. The driver sustained injuries to his neck and back.

Plaintiff's Allegations

The driver sued the ladder's owner, ACCO Management Company. He contended that ACCO was negligent, because it failed to secure the ladder to an ACCO vehicle or train ACCO personnel to do so.

Defendant's Allegations

ACCO denied responsibility for the ladder's appearance in the roadway, taking the position that the ladder likely was stolen from ACCO long before the accident.

Injuries/Damages

The driver sought medical treatment for his back and neck injuries on the date of the incident. Although the driver's injuries at first appeared to be modest, they grew far worse over time. He suffered constant pain from disc herniations that forced him to leave his graduate studies. He eventually required multi-level cervical disc replacement and repeated rhizotomies, resulting in medical costs of $150,000, plus future medical treatment in excess of $500,000. His injuries also prevented him from participating in his lifelong outdoor activities like mountain climbing.

Result

The parties settled before trial for $1,250,000.