Bhasker says that while he was in a coma, he was sent a termination letter and asked to pay for damages done to the bike.

4 years after losing hand in accident TN man in battle against Harley Davidson dealership
news Accident Tuesday, November 08, 2016 - 19:34

Sterling James Bhasker’s fight for justice against Harley Davidson has not been an easy one. For the last four years, he has been waiting for the motorcycle manufacturer to adequately compensate him for the accident in which he lost his right hand and suffered serious damage to his right leg.

In 2012, Bhasker was working with Harley Davidson as the business head of the Chennai dealership. He was content and satisfied with life, until suddenly, it came to a standstill. 

Since Bhasker began working with Harley Davidson in July 2011, he used to head the Harley Owners Group (HOG) rides which took place every other weekend. On July 22, 2012, he was asked to take 26 customers on a HOG ride from Chennai to Pondicherry, along with four other colleagues.

When the bikers reached Kiliyanur in Villupuram district, Bhasker’s bike skidded and ran into a culvert, and he ended up getting trapped under the bike. “I still do not know how the accident happened. I just know that I lost control and was injured badly,” he says.

Bhasker says that the owner of Coromandel Harley-Davidson, the Chennai dealership of the company, Vikram Sethi, asked his colleagues to put him in an ambulance and continue the HOG ride. He was rushed to the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) hospital. “My hands and legs were bleeding continuously. The doctors in the hospital said that I wouldn’t survive, so I was rushed to MIOT hospital in Chennai,” says Sterling.    

By the time, he reached MIOT, Bhasker was suffering from septicaemia in the right hand. “The doctors began conducting surgeries. They tried saving my right hand, but in the end, they had to amputate it. I went through 13 surgeries,” he says.

While he was in a coma for the next 12 days, he adds, the dealership sent him a termination letter. “The organisation also refused to provide compensation for my medical expenses.”

What’s more, he also received a notice seeking payment for the damages done to the bike in the accident. 

After a month-long stay in the hospital, Bhasker was discharged on August 22, receiving a bill of Rs 8 lakhs. Fortunately, he had earlier worked in various countries for 17 years before joining Harley Davidson in Chennai. “I was able to pay the bills because of all the savings after working for so many years. But what if this had happened to someone else who did not have money?” he asks.

For two years after the incident, Bhasker was bed-ridden. “My right leg had broken into two and my right hand was amputated, so I needed help for everything in life,” he says.

But Bhasker refused to let the accident kill his spirit. “I was always hopeful in life and started praying and believing in God after this incident,” he says.

In January 2013, he filed a civil case in the Madras High Court against the owner of the Chennai dealership for terminating his employment without notice and causing mental torture. However, he says, his case did not come up for hearing till December 2014. He also sent complaints to Harley Davidson, USA, Harley Davidson, Asia Pacific and Harley Davidson, India but did not receive any response to any of them.

His struggle still continues, with no clear end in sight. “Since 2014, I have had to attend two hearings in a month, but the lawyer turns up only to get an extension and the owner has come just two or three times for the case,” he says.

Bhasker says that he is ready to fight the court case for as long as necessary. “I am alive. That itself is a very great thing for me. So, I will fight for justice till I get it,” he says.

When contacted by The News Minute, Chief Financial Officer of the dealership, Prakash, said that Vikram Sethi was abroad and cannot be contacted. He added that the case involving Bhasker is pending in court, and the company did not wish to comment on it.  

Meanwhile, however, he started working at another motorcycle company in March 2014. “I am working as a business head for Triumph Motorcycles and this is what makes me keep moving ahead in life,” says Bhasker.

Even as he is determined to keep his life going, he says that circumstances have changed completely and fundamentally for him. “Life has changed completely. I cannot write, so I have to do everything on my laptop. Dressing myself in the morning itself is a task for me,” he says.

 

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