SETTLEMENT : Auto accident case involving negligent entrustment of company car
The plaintiff in this case was traveling northbound on a freeway near Valencia, California in the pre-dawn hours when she lost control of her vehicle, rolled over, and crashed in the side of the roadway. According to two eyewitnesses, both in the same vehicle, the plaintiff had passed them at excessively high speeds, approached a group of vehicles, and lost control due to her excessive speed.
However, a third eyewitness and the plaintiff herself described a different series of events. While she was driving at high speeds and frequently changing lanes, it was another vehicle that led to the plaintiff’s loss of control. The witness and the plaintiff testified that another vehicle moved directly into her lane to cut her off. This sudden movement forced the plaintiff to take evasive action and lose control of the vehicle. Furthermore, the driver of the offending vehicle failed to stop following the collision. The eyewitness chased after him, wrote down his license plate number, and later confronted him at a nearby gas station. It was based on this information that the plaintiff’s counsel identified the defendant who was driving a vehicle from a company he retired from.
As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sustained a C7-T1 spinal segment fracture, an injury that left her paraplegic and requiring around-the-clock care.
The plaintiff retained the services of Roger Booth of Booth & Koskoff to represent her in a vehicle negligence lawsuit against the driver and the company he retired from. Our team argued that the accident was primarily the fault of the retired employee due to his cutting her off in traffic. We also alleged that the defendant’s prior company was similarly liable as it had negligently entrusted the at-fault vehicle to the retired employee, who had a history of multiple at-fault accidents and traffic tickets in the years previous to the plaintiff’s accident. The company had even suspended the retired employee’s privileges to drive the vehicle 10 months earlier, but had allowed him to keep physical possession of the vehicle. The plaintiff argued that the standard practice in the fleet management field involved mandatory removal of vehicles from retired employees’ possession, particularly in situations in which they are determined as unsafe drivers.
The retired employee testified that the entire scenario was a case of mistaken identity and that he was not the one involved in the subject accident. The company he previously worked at contended that they were not liable for negligent entrustment as they had not entrusted the vehicle to the retired employee at the time of the accident and had instead suspended his driving privileges. Both defendants also contended that the plaintiff’s excessive speed and erratic driving behavior were the sole causes of the accident.
After the first day of trial, the defendant and plaintiff settled. The Booth & Koskoff legal team secured a $2,200,000 settlement on behalf of their client.