Girl Run Over by Own Father Gets $24 Million Personal Injury Award

Diana Yuleidy Loza-Jimenez It was a tragic accident. Simon Loza Mejia, a truck driver, was making a routine haul from Oregon to California and back in November of 2004. Because it was the Thanksgiving weekend, he used the drive as an opportunity to visit relatives, and took his 14 year old daughter, Diana, and other family members along with him on the trip.

They stopped for a rest in the area of Mount Shasta. Then Loza Mejia climbed back into the driver’s seat. Diana, however, had not gotten back into the truck. As her father started to drive away, the girl was caught underneath the big rig’s rear wheels.

Her injuries were horrific. Evidence later presented in court indicated that she would require numerous surgeries on her lower body, and that her “private functions” would be affected for the rest of her life.

The case is of particular interest because of the parties involved. No, the girl did not sue her own father, who was heartbroken over the incident. Rather, veteran Sacramento personal injury attorney Robert A. Buccola went after the firm that had hired Loza Mejia, Freeway Transport, Inc. Buccola believed that the employer was legally responsible for any injury caused in the course of business to a third party, even if the person was related to the driver. And he turned out to be right.

He even convinced the judge to exclude from the trial the fact that the girl had been run over by her own father, arguing that if this information were known to the jury, it might prejudice them.

The strategy worked, and the jury decided upon a whopping $24.3 million as the appropriate award—the largest judgment in the history of Sacramento County. The amount was calculated as follows:

  • $2.2 million for already incurred medical expenses
  • $2.1 million for future economic damages
  • $8 million for past pain and mental suffering
  • $12 million for future noneconomic losses

Attorney Buccola stated that he was “thrilled… that the jury appreciated the full magnitude of Diana’s injuries. She faces… a life of serious disrepair. She’s going to be going through the worst ahead of her.”

Source: The Sacramento Bee

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