Jurors in a Riverside County court have awarded nearly $58 million in damages for a Temecula man who will need a lifetime of care after a 2011 accident on Interstate 15 left him unable to speak or move his limbs.
The award earlier this month for Timothy Herman, 25, appears to be one of the highest-ever civil-court verdicts in the county, although Herman cannot collect the full amount because he was determined to be 75 percent responsible for the accident.
Other post-verdict motions and court action may reduce the award even more. Herman’s attorney said further litigation likely will be needed to determine who is responsible for paying whatever final damage amount is determined.
Most of the award is to cover Herman’s future pain and suffering.
He is being cared for by his parents, who originally had sought $15,000 to help pay for a van to transport their son to medical appointments.
Herman was headed toward home about 4 a.m. Feb. 13, 2011, when he apparently fell asleep. His car spun and came to a stop facing the wrong way on the southbound lanes at Temescal Canyon Road, south of Corona.
Armando Solis, of Corona, stopped to help him. Herman and Solis were standing behind Herman’s car when a car driven by Margarito Cardiel of San Juan Capistrano struck the vehicle, sending the two men hurtling from the elevated freeway to the ground 40 feet below.
Witnesses said the headlights of Herman’s car were working, and Solis, who stopped on the slow-lane shoulder to help Herman, had put on his car’s emergency flashers.
Solis had serious back injuries. Herman suffered brain damage and was left with almost total paralysis.
“He is literally a prisoner in his own body,” Herman’s attorney, Gregory G. Rizio, whose practice is based in Santa Ana, said in a telephone interview. “He feels pain, but he can’t do anything about it.”
He said jurors saw Herman for only about four minutes, during closing arguments “No sane individual would say ‘let me change places with that guy’” Rizio said he told jurors.
Of the $57,947,402 the jury awarded, $40 million was designated for future physical pain and mental suffering, according to the verdict form.
“He is totally dependent on his parents,” Rizio said. “He is 25, and when they die, he will go into a facility.”
CARE AND CONCERNS
After the accident, Herman spent about 14 months in a hospital and nursing home. Lisa Herman, 61, and her husband, Richard, 56, have been caring for him at the family’s Temecula home for a little more than two years.
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