Case details

Motorcyclist claimed contact with SUV knocked him down





Result type

Not present

back, femoral, fracture, hip, left foot, lower back, neck, right leg, transverse process, vertebra
On Aug. 2, 2013, plaintiff Juan Altamirano, 50, a wastewater technician, was riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle eastbound on Interstate 105. At approximately 2:30 p.m., while lane splitting in the #1 lane near the Avalon off-ramp, Altamirano collided with the right fender of a Cadillac SUV rented and operated by John Benjamin Harrison. The plaintiff was knocked off his motorcycle and claimed to his right leg, lower back, and left foot. Altamirano sued Harrison; Harrison’s employer, PR Employer Inc.; and the owner of the vehicle, Hertz Vehicles LLC. Altamirano alleged that Harrison was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that PR Employer was liable via course and scope. He also alleged that Hertz Vehicles was vicariously liable for Harrison’s actions. The claim against Hertz Vehicles was ultimately not pursued because it was determined that the statutory liability of the rental car company, as the owner of the vehicle, was subsumed by the ample coverage that existed for the driver, Harrison. Altamirano contended that Harrison changed lanes into the #1 lane in what the plaintiff alleged was a violation of California Vehicle Code 21685(a). The defense disputed liability for the accident. Defense counsel contended that Altamirano was driving dangerously and at an unreasonable speed for traffic conditions., Altamirano was taken by ambulance to the emergency room from the scene of the accident. He was diagnosed with a closed fracture of the right femoral neck, superior endplate L5 fracture with right L1 and L2 transverse fractures; and multiple complex left mid-foot fractures, including metatarsal/cuboid fractures and cuneiform fractures with widening of tarsal and metatarsal joints. Altamirano underwent emergency surgical procedures, including a right partial hip arthroplasty, as well as left leg fasciotomies to treat compartment syndrome and subsequent wound debridement and external fixation of his fractures. He was then transferred to USC County Hospital where additional surgeries were performed on his left foot and leg, including skin grafts. Altamirano was hospitalized for approximately one month and released to Long Beach Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Center for seven days. His total past medical bills were approximately $375,000, and the plaintiff also claimed he was unable to return to work, where he was making $21 per hour. The plaintiff further contended that he may need a right below-the-knee amputation if additional surgical intervention is unsuccessful. The defense disputed the nature and extent of Altamirano’s claimed and damages. Defense counsel contended that the plaintiff would not need a below-the-knee amputation, that his recovery had stabilized, and that he was able to return to work.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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