California Court of Appeal Upholds $4.7M Damages Award Against Utility Whose Power Line Killed an Orchard Worker

power linesWhile there is no amount of money that can replace the loss of the life of a parent and spouse, that truth does not change the fact that the premature death of a primary breadwinner creates a massive financial difficulty for the family he or she leaves behind. That is why it is important to protect your family through promptly pursued wrongful death litigation when such an event occurs. If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, you should reach out right away to a knowledgeable California wrongful death attorney to discuss your options and opportunities to pursue an appropriate recovery.

Successfully pursuing a wrongful death case can involve many essential steps and techniques. Take, as an example, a case recently before the Court of Appeal. 31-year-old Pablo was a migrant agricultural worker who was working at an orchard in Riverside County when his 20-foot aluminum ladder came into contact with a power line. The low-hanging, high-voltage line surged 12,000 volts of electricity through Pablo’s body, killing him.

The worker’s estate sued the electric utility for wrongful death. The estate’s case was that the high-voltage electrical wires were too low, and, if they had been at an appropriate height, the fatal accident would not have occurred. The estate’s case contended that applicable regulations required the wires to be at least 25 feet off the ground, but the wire that killed Pablo was only approximately 18’ 10” off the ground.

When you pursue a personal injury or wrongful death case, part of handling that litigation may involve persuading jurors to leave behind their biases to return a fair and just verdict. In this case, that meant encouraging the jurors not to diminish or underestimate the financial harm caused by Pablo’s loss simply because he was a Latino migrant agricultural worker whose work frequently took him away from his family for long periods of time. The jury in this case found the utility 80% responsible and awarded $4.7 million in damages.

Another key element of a successful personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is getting before the jurors the jury instructions that you want. In this lawsuit, the judge gave the jury instructions on two different kinds of negligence that they could consider. One was something called general negligence, and the other was negligence per se. Providing these instructions to the jury and allowing them to consider both types of negligence was beneficial to the plaintiff’s case because it provided multiple bases upon which the jury could find the utility negligent and award damages to the worker’s estate.

The appeals court upheld what the judge did in instructing the jury and what the jury did in determining that the utility was 80% to blame for the accident.

To make sure that your case gets the thoughtful, compassionate, and determined representation you deserve, talk to the skilled San Mateo wrongful death attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have been helping loved ones obtain fair compensation for the wrongful loss of loved ones for many years. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

How a Joint Statutory Settlement Offer Can Work for You in Your California Personal Injury Case, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 20, 2018

Southern California Jury Hands Down $26M Verdict in Case of Teen’s Wrongful Death Aboard Sightseeing Bus, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published Jan. 4, 2017

Photo Credit: lebone, [CC0 License], via Pixabay