Law Firm Wins Justice for Homeless Skateboarder Injured by Prominent Santa Cruz County Resident
The San Jose personal injury law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard is announcing that a Santa Cruz County jury yesterday awarded more than $600,000 to a homeless 41-year-old skateboarder who was hit and severely injured by a car driven by a prominent Santa Cruz County resident.
The jury reduced the award to $387,000 after determining that the skateboarder, Shawn Erwood, was 37 percent at fault for the accident.
The lawsuit filed by attorney Robert Allard, who was assisted during the trial by Oakland attorney David Martin, on behalf of Erwood (Santa Cruz County, Case CV164671), alleged that a car driven by Dominican Foundation Board member James Hatch caused serious and permanent injuries to Erwood
In December 2007, Erwood was riding his skateboard on Capitola Road in Santa Cruz when Mr. Hatch’s car struck him down and ran over him. Hatch left the scene, leaving a seriously injured Erwood lying on the ground. Hatch then returned to the car accident scene and upon seeing emergency vehicles attending to Erwood left the scene once again.
Hatch and his insurance company Safeco Insurance refused to take personal responsibility for Hatch’s irresponsible driving, requiring a Santa Cruz County jury to hear both sides of the case in a 10 day trial before Judge Timothy Volkmann and decide liability.
In deciding liability in this case, the jury was instructed to determine if Hatch was responsible for the accident that left Erwood with serious injuries, and how much Erwood should be compensated for his injuries.
“The jury should be commended for upholding the laws of this country that state every person is entitled to equal rights and protection under the law,” said Allard. “For Mr. Hatch and his defense lawyer, James Biernat, to argue that status should entitle them to evade responsibility simply because my client did not have a home and was riding a skateboard, in my belief, backfired before the jury. Hatch and his insurance defense lawyer tried to make my client’s lifestyle the focus of their argument rather than accepting responsibility for running him over and then inexplicably leaving the scene of the accident not once but twice,” added Allard.
Due to a lack of health insurance and Safeco steadfastly evading responsibility, Erwood has gone well over three years without the full medical treatment necessary for recovery. Going forward, Erwood will now be able to undergo numerous surgeries including surgery to both his left and right shoulder, along with full hip replacement and reconstructive surgery to his knee. In addition to back injuries, these ailments will result in some permanent disability despite surgical intervention.