Chris Bonilla's Lawsuit Against CalTrans: A Legal Perspective
Bonilla Argues Negligence by the State.
It happened in Los Angeles County. Chris Bonilla was one of the best known MMA fighters before his gruesome accident in 2018. Bonilla crashed into an unmarked barrier. Bonilla claims that the California Department of Transportation did not mark the boundary properly. According to Bonilla, he was traveling on the 10 Freeway in Wast Covina around six in the morning. He pulled over to the side of the road.
The results were disastrous. According to TMZ, the former Muay Thai champ has a severe case. It's one that caught my radar, so I wanted to expand with some thoughts from the legal profession side.
Photos of the accident show the sheer extent of the damage. Doctors barely saved his leg. However, according to the MMA champ, it may eventually need to be amputated. The photos show extreme damage to his body-- and from the looks of it, due to an issue that should not have existed in the first place.
From the Law Side.
Legally, it appears that CalTrans was negligent. Most likely, the barrier required reflective tape or mirrored reflectors. So negligent maintenance and failure to warn are definitely at issue. The state did not install them. Furthermore, the state has a higher level of responsibility than a homeowner or a small municipality.
If CalTrans knew of the defect, it almost certainly is liable. Also, this issue is likely not isolated to this incident. Every case where CalTrans installed such defective barriers is an injury waiting to happen.
I read the publicly available info on Bonilla's case. I don't know every last detail. However, from a legal perspective, this appears to be relatively open and shut. No one deserves to lose their leg. Especially not someone involved in physical activity.
A jury will likely award some compensation for the accident. How much remains to be seen. Bonilla's original ask is still not known. For more info on these and similar accidents, keep reading our series on MMA and sports injuries. We will update the site with more cases.