A motorcycle rider injured in a collision with a Big Blue Bus will receive a total of $7 million but Santa Monica will only pay $1 million.

A motorcycle rider injured in a collision with a Big Blue Bus will receive a total of $7 million after settling his case with the city but Santa Monica will only pay $1 million of the total with the rest coming from insurance.

The case dates back to April 13 of 2017 when Jerry Vergara was riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle northbound on Aviation Blvd. in Los Angeles when he hit the rear passenger end of a 60-foot articulated bus driven by Alfredo Maldonado as the bus was turning left onto 116th Street to enter the Green Line station.

According to court documents, the bus had the left-turn arrow and made the maneuver before Vergara had cleared the intersection.

“The general timing and sequence of events is not disputed—surveillance video from the bus and surrounding businesses was obtained, assessed by both sides, and will be introduced at trial,” said a case summary. “However, the parties disagree on speeds, perceptions/perceptibility, standard of care, and, ultimately, the reasonableness of the respective actions taken by each driver. Each side will present testimony from accident reconstructionists, video analysis experts, motorcycle safety experts, bus safety experts, and human factors experts. Additionally, multiple witnesses from the City will testify regarding policies, procedures, and training.”

Both sides agree Vergara suffered severe initial injuries including multiple fractures and brain bleeds. However, the two sides disagreed over the extent of his long-term injuries.

“In short, the dispute boils down to Plaintiffs’ contention that Mr. Vergara has sustained serious, lifelong injuries that will require extensive care in the future and limit his ability to work and Defendants’ contention that Mr. Vergara made an almost full recovery, will need little to no future treatment, and can work at the same capacity he could before,” said the documents.

While the case was scheduled for a jury trial, the two sides agreed to the settlement with Council approving the payout at its Dec. 13 meeting.


Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...