Q: I was physically assaulted by a metro bus driver, the case went to trial, the driver was found guilty, sentenced 1 year
metro wants to settle. on what basis can I get compensation?
A: You have a claim against both the WMATA employee for assault, as well as WMATA itself based on vicarious liability for their employee’s actions, common carrier liability, and negligent hiring and supervision, among other possible theories. Those causes of action are the basis on which you establish liability and the right to claim damages. Damages are separately established based on the nature and extent on injuries suffered, medical costs incurred, lost wages resulting from your injuries, emotional fright and psychological injuries, pain and suffering, permanent impairment, and punitive damages (at least against the employee, likely not against WMATA). While medical costs, lost wages, and other actual out of pocket expenses can be easily established, the value of the other categories of damages are not subject to easy calculation, and are based on the possible range of what the parties believe a jury might consider reasonable compensation. Suffice to say, WMATA will value your damages much less than you will, and without a lawyer on your side negotiating and representing a credible threat to file suit, they will not offer an unrepresented claimant very much money at all. If your actions can be in any way characterized as instigating or adding to the dispute that led to the assault, that may have an affect on how they view both ultimate liability as well as the value of your claim. On the flip side, an extreme and outrageous assault with serious injuries and hospitalization would likely inflame a jury to consider a much larger award, causing WMATA to feel they need to offer more. Either way, hiring a lawyer would be your only fair chance to get a reasonable offer.
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