California Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Contention City was Liable for Dangerous Condition at Intersection Following Pedestrian Accident

In a recent case before a California appellate court, the issue on appeal was whether there remained triable issues of material fact concerning whether an intersection where an accident took place constituted a dangerous condition of public property.  Dangerous conditions of property exist when property is defective or damaged in a way that foreseeably endangers those using the property. In analyzing whether the trial court properly granted judgment in favor of the city, the appellate court focused on whether the plaintiffs met their burden of establishing a genuine issue of material fact regarding causation.

The lawsuit centered on a motor vehicle collision in which the defendant driver lost control of his car and hit the plaintiff, a pedestrian, injuring him.  The plaintiff and his family members brought a complaint against the driver and the City of San Jose. On appeal, the claims against the City remained at issue, including allegations of negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, dangerous condition of public property, and loss of consortium.

According to the plaintiffs, the intersection was an unreasonably dangerous condition of public property and caused the accident and the resulting injuries.  They alleged that the intersection did not have proper signage, despite previous accidents caused by lack of visibility and lack of proper controls.  The plaintiffs claimed that the City had been on notice of these issues.

The City moved for summary judgment, alleging that there was no evidence of a dangerous condition, the City did not have notice of such a condition, and the accident was due to the defendant’s failure to exercise care.  The City contended it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, since it was immune from liability.

After extensive arguments concerning whether the City was immune from liability, the trial court issued a tentative ruling and eventually granted the motion for summary judgment in favor of the City.  The court found the plaintiffs had not raised triable issues of fact regarding causation and the City’s design immunity.

In their analysis, the appellate court stated that determining whether a dangerous condition exists is a question of fact.  Dangerous conditions are those conditions of property that create a substantial risk of injury when used as intended.  The physical condition of property must have a defect, and the defect must have a causal relationship to the third-party conduct injuring the plaintiff.

The appellate court supported the trial court’s finding that the plaintiffs had not shown that potential visual obstructions caused the accident. Here, the plaintiffs relied on the fact that the defendant had testified that the design of the intersection affected his visibility. But the court stated that in fact, the defendant had stated that an illegally parked car had blocked his view of traffic. The court noted that he had not testified a parked vehicle contributed to his limited visibility.

The plaintiffs also had argued that the City had failed to install stop signs or traffic signals. This failure created a dangerous condition of public property.  The Court stated that a condition is not deemed to be a dangerous condition because of a failure to provide traffic control signals. The lack of a traffic signal does not constitute proof of a dangerous condition.

The Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the City.

When presenting a claim for compensation, it is important for accident victims to meet the elements of their legal claim.  The dedicated injury attorneys at Sharifi Firm represent individuals and their families as they assert their right to recover compensation from at-fault parties.  To better understand your legal rights, contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled motor vehicle collision attorney.  We can be reached by calling 1-866-422-7222 or completing our online form.

More Blog Posts:

California Court of Appeal Holds Parties Had Not Reached a Settlement in Personal Injury Lawsuit Following Car Crash, and Case Should Not Have Been Dismissed, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, May 18, 2017

Judgment in Favor of Defendant Transit System Upheld in Vehicle Accident Lawsuit, California Appellate Court Holds No Abuse of Discretion When Judge Excluded Plaintiff’s Expert Testimony, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog,  April 6, 2017

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