Man who lost hand awarded $9 million

By Michael Trihey
The Bakersfield Californian

A man who lost one hand and nearly lost the other in a construction accident has agreed to an out-of-court settlement that will pay more than $9 million during his lifetime.
Donald Lewis McDaniels, 21, will receive yearly payments that will begin at $70,749 and increase 3 percent per year.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Ken Dunbar electric and D.H. Williams Co. were named as defendants in the suit.
The settlement was negotiated by McDaniels’ attorney, John C. Hall of Bakersfield.
McDaniels was 18 and an employee of Dunbar Electric on Dec. 21, 1983, when he was injured.
He had been on the job_his first since graduating from high school_ only four months when he was disabled for the rest of his life.
He was a laborer and part of a crew erecting a warehouse in the 900 block of 24th Street when he received a nearly fatal electrical shock.
McDaniels was on the ground, guiding a load of metal roofing material that was being lowered by a 24-foot crane like boom truck.
The boom touched an uninsulated 12,000-volt overhead wire, sending the electricity into McDaniels.
McDaniels immediately was knocked to the ground; his heart and breathing stopped.
But Connie Hughes, a passer-by, stopped and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation until the Fire Department and an ambulance arrived.
McDaniels was admitted to San Joaquin Hospital in critical condition and remained in a coma for a month.
His right hand had to be amputated, and his left hand was rendered 90 percent disabled by the accident.
The suit alleged that the power lines were located in an unsafe area. Dunbar Electirc and the Williams Co. – who were developing the property, should have made the area safe for workers, the suit claimed.
PG&E was named as a defendant because company workers who visited the construction site should have noticed the dangerous wire and taken steps to make the area safer, the suit alleged.
Hall’s suit alleged that a similar but less serious accident, in which a dump truck touched a lower set of overhead wires, should have served to warn the contractors and PG&E.
All of the defendants denied responsibility for the accident. The settlement was reached with none of them admitting liability.
The settlement was reached when the defendants agreed to purchase an annuity which will make monthly payments to McDaniels for as long as he lives.
He will receive an immediate payment of $1 million to cover legal and medical fees and other expenses.
His monthly payments begin immediately. If he lives to his normal life expectancy of 51 more years, the payments come to $9.28 million.