Nine months after an accident on a city-maintained road, the plaintiff brought a personal injury claim for damages against the City of Los Angeles. The Court of Appeals recently affirmed an order set forth by the lower court in that case, dismissing the plaintiff’s Los Angles bicycle accident case and his request to file a late claim. The appellate court analyzed the evidence and found that the plaintiff had not complied with the filing requirements of Government Code section 946.6.
On June 16, 2014, the plaintiff was struck by behind by a vehicle while biking on La Tuna Canyon Road. He suffered serious injuries and was in a coma for one month after the accident. After investigations, the plaintiff’s attorney alleged that, among other things, the City was liable for improperly marked bicycle lanes, which were inadequately maintained. The plaintiff also filed for a petition for an order that would relieve him from the claim filing requirements of section 946.6, on the ground that his failure to present the claims on time resulted from mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.
The lower court denied the petition and held that the incident report provided to the plaintiff’s counsel was sufficient to identify the location of the accident.
On appeal, the court stated that when bringing a lawsuit for money against a government entity for injuries, there must have been a formal claim against the entity first. This claim must have been presented within six months of the accrual of the cause of action. Late claimants may apply for leave to present after this time, within one year of the accrued cause of action.
When a court finds that failing to present a timely claim was due to mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable negligence, the petitioner may present a late claim. To show eligibility for relief in this manner, the party seeking relief must show diligence in investigating and pursuing the claim.
In this case, the plaintiff alleged his counsel diligently investigated the claims but had not discovered new facts until seven months following the accident. He also argued that the police had not adequately described the location of the accident in their report. His contention was that the trial court should not have determined his claim accrued at the time of the accident.
The appellate court stated that an attorney must diligently investigate facts and identify possible defendants. Here, while the plaintiff may not have recollected the location of the accident, facts were available within the incident report. Furthermore, according to the court, the plaintiff’s attorneys could have questioned officers investigating the accident. The court stated it “was not excusable” for the plaintiff’s attorney to rely on the accident report, which stated the driver was at fault, to then conclude that the City could not have contributed to the fault.
To make a good-faith claim against the City, the court stated that there were steps that the plaintiff’s counsel could have taken that would have provided information supporting a claim. The trial court properly denied the plaintiff’s petition, according to the reviewing court, and it had not been an abuse of discretion.
The skilled Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys at Sharifi Firm represent injured individuals following an accident that has led to injuries and damages. We strive to fully compensate victims for the harm they have suffered due to the negligence of others, and we provide a free consultation. Call our office at 1-866-422-7222 to speak with a dedicated attorney today.
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California Court of Appeal Holds Government Not Liable for Injuries Suffered by Escaping Psychiatric Patient, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, May 12, 2016
California Court Holds in Favor of Injured Plaintiffs, “Trail Immunity” Does Not Extend to Public Golf Course that Causes Injuries to Pedestrians Nearby, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, June 15, 2017