A California appellate court recently considered a case in which a plaintiff claimed that the city was at fault for failing to repaint a city crosswalk. The plaintiff sued the city of Salinas, California after she was hit by a car while walking across the street. The plaintiff was in the crosswalk at the time she was hit, which had not been repainted in sixteen years and was almost completely faded. The plaintiff claimed that the condition of the crosswalk amounted to a dangerous condition.
Under a city ordinance, the city was required to maintain crosswalks at intersections with the appropriate markings. Based on the ordinance, the plaintiff asked that the jury be read instructions on the concept of negligence per se.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se refers to a finding of negligence based on a violation of the law. If negligence per se applies, the defendant is presumed to have breached the duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. For example, there might be a finding of negligence per se in a California drunk driving accident.
The Appellate Court’s Decision
In this case, the judge did not read the plaintiff’s requested jury instruction, and instead read a jury instruction the city had requested. The jury found in favor of the city, and the plaintiff appealed.
The appellate court held that the lower court erred in providing the jury instruction the city had requested. The instruction had stated in part that the jury could not rely on the intersection’s design elements to find that a dangerous condition existed, and could not rely on characteristics of the driveway itself.
The court explained that the instruction was misleading and confusing. Further, the court found that the error in providing the instruction was prejudicial. The evidence suggested that the improper jury instruction influenced the jury’s decision. For one, although the jury found in the city’s favor, the jury wrote on the verdict form “Paint the xwalk Salinas!” The jury also asked multiple questions about the meaning of dangerous condition. Because the court decided that the trial court improperly instructed the jury, and that the instruction likely influenced the jury’s decision, the court reversed the verdict and ordered a new trial.
Contact a Los Angeles Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured and believe someone else may be at fault, contact an injury attorney to discuss your claim as soon as possible. You may be able to recover monetary compensation for your injuries from the person or entity responsible. At Sharifi Firm, PLC, our trial attorneys provide aggressive representation to Los Angeles accident victims in a variety of cases, including California car accidents, slip-and-falls, and construction accidents. Our experienced injury attorneys provide dedicated representation from the beginning of your case through the end. They know how to negotiate with defendants and their insurers, and also will not hesitate to take a case to trial if it proves necessary. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form.
See Related Posts:
California Court Discusses Vicarious Liability in Recent Car Accident Case, California Injury Lawyer Blog, January 10, 2019.
Court Determines College Is Not Immune from Lawsuit Under California Field Trip Exception, California Injury Lawyer Blog, December 11, 2018.