The city of San Diego recently agreed to a $375,000 settlement for the riders of a motorcycle who were severely injured in an accident in the neighborhood of Clairemont Mesa. This was after two years of litigation against the city for what plaintiffs claim was negligence for failure to construct a safe roadway.
In 2014, two people were injured when a vehicle pulled out of a parking lot which resulted in an accident with the motorcycle. Injuries included severe injuries to one of the rider’s arms and a neck injury for the other rider.
The lawsuit claimed that the city “and its employees, agents, contractors and representatives, were negligent in the course and scope of their employment, in failing to appropriately designate, place, situate, sign, stripe, mark, paint, delineate, illuminate, design, construct, maintain or otherwise provide, identify and/or control with appropriate traffic control devices, an appropriate roadway facility.”
This settlement brings to light the liability of others involved in a motorcycle accident. While the motorists involved are likely to be at fault, there are also outside factors to consider for liability.
So how is a Municipality Liable for a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Whenever there is an accident involving a motor vehicle, people assume that it is the fault of the driver or drivers involved in the collision. This is not always the case. While drivers may be to blame for the majority of accidents, there are times when others are to blame.
In the case of this accident, the plaintiffs claimed that the city failed to properly mark the roadway and provide for a proper traffic control device. Instead of it being the fault of the driver who pulled in front of the motorcycle, the victims claim that the accident would not have happened if the city would have erected the proper traffic control at the intersection.
The municipality who maintains a roadway can be liable if it can be shown that their failure to maintain the roadway was the cause of the accident.
Examples of Poor Roadway Maintenance
A municipality is required to maintain the roadways within its jurisdiction. This includes properly painting lanes, clearing debris from the roadway, and repairing damaged sections of the road. If they fail to make repairs such as filling in potholes and allowing painted lines to wear away, a lawsuit could potentially be filed as a result of their failure.
In addition to maintaining the roadways and keeping them free of debris, municipalities must keep proper traffic controls in place. This means that traffic signals, warning signs, speed limit signs, and other devices that assist with traffic control must be implemented. Also, construction zones must be properly marked and traffic barriers placed in the correct locations in order to protect workers and warn motorists.
Teenager Seriously Injured Due to Poor Road Maintenance
Another example of poor road maintenance occurred in 2011 when a client of this firm was seriously injured in an accident on SR-76. The victim was on his way to baseball practice when he was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle. The victim was extricated from the vehicle and airlifted to the hospital while in a coma.
During the liability phase of the trial against the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the jury found 65% liability on the part of Caltrans for a poorly designed roadway. The jury found the collision was caused by an excessive pavement drop-off edge which constituted a dangerous condition of public property.
What Happens When a City Fails to Maintain Traffic Controls and Roadway Conditions?
As you can see from the recent settlement, it can cost a municipality financially for failing to maintain the roadway. Unfortunately, it can also cost a person their life.
In 2013, a jury in Ohio awarded the family of a deceased motorist more than $3 million after a pothole was blamed for her death. The jury stated that Department of Transportation was liable for “negligence in failing to maintain the roadway in a reasonably safe condition” as the sole proximate cause of the crash.
Summing It Up
A city can be liable for failing to maintain the roadway when it results in an accident. This can be anything from failing to remove debris to not setting up proper traffic controls. If you are injured as a result of poor road maintenance, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately to determine the extent of liability.
Our attorney will travel to your home, or hospital, at your convenience and request.
We are available to discuss your case anytime. Give us a call at (619) 550-1355.
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