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Trucker in bike fatality seeks indemnity

Original post made on Apr 26, 2011

Truck driver Gabriel Vera and his employer are seeking indemnity from San Mateo County in connection with a lawsuit brought against Mr. Vera by relatives of Los Altos Hills bicyclist Lauren Ward.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 11:40 AM

Comments (15)

Posted by Cee
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Why does anyone need indemnity & why would Ms. Ward's relatives sue? It was a tragic accident. The driver was not at fault. Can Ms. Ward's relatives not understand that she perhaps made an error of judgment or timing which caused or contributed to her fatal accident?

Why try to get a monetary reward?

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Why wouldn't they sue? That's the name of the game. [Portion deleted.] No, the family can not understand it was a tragic accident and money will not bring back Ms. Ward. Sad, but true.

Posted by Robbie
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I understood that his rig was too big to be on that road legally. The trucker made an error of judgement by using that road. I don't see how he can claim that someone else set up a dangerous situation for him when he wasn't supposed to be there in the first place!

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 26, 2011 at 5:17 pm


if the truck could not be there legally he would have been found at fault in the accident or at a minimum it would have been a contributing factor. It isn't illegal and it wasn't a contributing factor.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Do any of you recall the O. J. Simpson trial? A criminal court found him "not guilty," but a civil court found him liable for about $30 million (as I recall) in damages for his role in the wrongful death of Ron Goldman.

THAT'S why you sue.

Just because the highway patrol found insufficient evidence (no witnesses, etc.) to fault the truck driver doesn't mean a civil jury won't find the trucker (especially one with his driving record) has some liability.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Sorry POGO, OJ was jury nulification pure and simple. Unlike this case, it's not like the police didn't think he did it. It's possible a civil jury could find this driver liable, but it is only due to a lower standard for the finding of "guilt." My bet is this case settles on the court house steps. The woman's family will get their pound of flesh because the insurance company doesn't want to take the risk or expend the money to defend what is a truly defensible case. It all comes down to numbers and probablities of outcomes for the insurance company.

Posted by Robbie
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:54 pm

The Almanac didn't pick up on this thread, but the Mercury News did. On December 23, 2010:

Gabriel Manzur Vera was driving a big rig that was 700 pounds too heavy for unincorporated San Mateo County roads when he struck and killed a bicyclist near Portola Valley last month, a California Highway Patrol spokesman has confirmed.

Investigators checked out Vera's 26-wheel truck at the scene of the Nov. 4 collision that killed Los Altos Hills resident Lauren Ward. They concluded that the big rig had no mechanical defects, but that it was too heavy for unincorporated county...."

That is all I can pull from the archives without paying, but it confirms my memory that the trucker should not have been on that road at all.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

MV -

I don't disagree with you about the reasons for the acquittal.

My point is that the burden of proof is LOWER in a civil case... which is why you sue.

Posted by John Slater
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2011 at 11:02 am

The newspapers say Ms. Ward turned into the truck. But no cyclist I have talked to can explain why somebody riding alongside a large truck would turn into the truck. The statements by the CHP are non-sense. Hopefully a court case will give this accident proper scrutiny; the CHP wasn't very motivated to spend time trying to understand what happened.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm

There is a theory that the rider turned into the side of the truck because a driver came up behind her on her left side, intent on merging left to head into Ladera.

If there was such a vehicle and if it was being driven aggressively, it could have been enough to scare the rider and cause her to lose balance or initiate evasive action. Consider your response upon hearing the acceleration and perhaps seeing in your bike mirror a large SUV coming up on what might seem like a near-collision course.

No witnesses have come forward. If this is what happened, I don't see how the CHP can ever penetrate it unless a witness comes forward.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Ya, the CHP was so unmotivated they went out a second time to do further investigation. Give me a break.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm

The CHP doesn't have to do any more investigating. The plaintiff will present their investigative findings and the defendant theirs (the CHP report, probably).

It will be up the lawyers and a jury to decide who's at fault.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside High School
on Apr 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

however, POGO, what the the trucking company and driver are requesting is that county residents pay for the findings of the jury.

It's too early to make a decision on the CHP findings until the results of the second investigation are back.

nice catch of the Mercury News article, Robbie. -- I hadn't seen that one.

Posted by Robbie
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2011 at 10:07 am

I also seem to remember that the CHP became motivated to do the second investigation after hearing that the family's investigators came to a different conclusion.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

Observer -

The county will not voluntarily accept assignment of liability, of course, and the trucking company will have to sue them. I assume the trucking company has insurance and it is the insurance company that is pursuing this.

Either way, the courts will sort it all out.

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