In a recent pedestrian accident case, Killings-Rodriguez v. City of Los Angeles, Cal. Ct. App. (2015), the California Court of Appeals issued a decision regarding the appeal from a summary judgment motion in a case that alleged a certain intersection was dangerously unsafe.
In the case, two girls were crossing the street when they were struck by a car, which killed one of the girls and rendered the other quadriplegic. The girls’ parents sued on their behalf, alleging that the city was liable for a dangerous condition of public property, in that the intersection had poor visibility and a lack of necessary traffic signals or signs, among other arguments.
The driver who hit the girls had stated that he did not see them as he approached the intersection, and that just prior to the collision, he had looked down to change the music that was playing. The trial court found that it was because of the driver’s negligence that the accident occurred. It also relied on the city’s expert witness and an unrelated case in finding on behalf of the city that there was no issue of material fact, and it thus entered summary judgment.
The intersection had a history of extensive accidents, and because of the proximity of many elementary schools, there were lots of young children crossing. The expert witness for the plaintiffs introduced evidence regarding the dangers of the crosswalk, and there was evidence that an engineer for the city had recommended that a traffic light be installed during an unrelated construction project in order to ensure the safe flow of pedestrians crossing.
To recover in an action against a public entity under the relevant California law, a plaintiff must prove: “(1) a dangerous condition existed on the public property at the time of the injury; (2) the condition proximately caused the injury; (3) the condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury sustained; and (4) the public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition of the property in sufficient time to have taken measures to protect against it.”
The trial court granted a motion for summary judgment on the basis of the finding in another case that there was no danger, but the court of appeals found that a triable issue of fact did exist as to whether the intersection in this case presented a dangerous condition of public property.
Furthermore, the court found that the intersection did in fact present a dangerous condition because of the likely individuals crossing there, children, and because of the presentation of the intersection and other traffic and geographic features endemic to that area.
Lastly, the court found that the trial court placed too much evidence on the fact that the driver who struck the children was distracted or otherwise negligent, and that his actions therefore absolved the city from any liability for the intersection’s potential shortcomings. It found that the city was still potentially liable for the dangerous condition, notwithstanding the driver’s potentially negligent actions.
Therefore, since the court of appeals found that there were potential material facts that could be proven or dis-proven, it reversed the case and remanded it for further proceedings.
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to understand your rights so that you can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at Sharifi Firm, APC have significant experience in handling car accident cases throughout California. If you have been involved in a car accident, contact us today for a free consultation. We can be reached through this website, or by calling (866) 422-7222.
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