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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 traveled on the 10 Freeway in West 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 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.
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, this appears to be relatively open and shut from a legal perspective. 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 settlement demand amount remains unknown. If you would like more info on these and similar celebrity car accidents, keep reading our series on MMA and sports injuries. We will update our site with more cases later.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.