An Accident Along the Famed Venice Beach Boardwalk Leads to a $14M Settlement

Legal News GavelAccording to the Los Angeles Times, an injured woman and the family of a deceased woman worked out a settlement recently with the City of Los Angeles to bring to an end lawsuits that accused the city of failing to maintain parts of the Venice Beach Boulevard properly, allowing a driver to avoid barriers and crash into pedestrians located on the Boardwalk. The outcome occurred in part because the plaintiffs were able to defeat the city’s claims of immunity (which would have ended their lawsuit) and were subsequently in a position to negotiate a workable settlement. Whether you are intent upon pursuing your case all the way to judgment or are open to settling, it helps to have skilled California pedestrian accident counsel on your side, who can provide you with the benefit of their experience and give you the advice you need.

The accident happened on a late summer afternoon in August 2013. Locals and tourists were enjoying the usual activities along the Venice Beach Boardwalk until a driver, who had managed to maneuver his car around the Boardwalk’s barriers, drove his vehicle into the crowd on the Boardwalk. The crash injured 16 and killed one Italian woman who was on her honeymoon.

One of the injured people, as well as the family of the deceased woman, sued the City of Los Angeles. The lawsuits asserted that the inadequacy of the barriers between the Boardwalk and a nearby city street (which the driver used to enter the Boardwalk with his car) amounted to a dangerous condition and that the city’s failure to correct this hazard made it liable for the injuries caused.

While you may not be bicycling or walking along a famed boardwalk, you may still find yourself injured while walking or biking along a public walkway or pathway. When that happens, there are several keys to obtaining the compensation you need. First, you have to establish that a dangerous condition existed and that the owner either actually knew about the hazard (which is called “actual notice”) or else should have known about it if it was using reasonable care (which is known as “constructive notice”).

Another issue that you may have to address is overcoming any claims of immunity made by the defendant that you’ve sued. Governmental entities are entitled to immunity from facing suit (and paying compensation) in various scenarios. One of those is something that applies to certain pathways and walkways and is called “trail immunity.” It is, as the name implies, a statutory rule that says that a governmental entity cannot be liable for the condition of a trail used for recreational purposes.

The City of Los Angeles attempted to argue that the trail immunity statute applied and prevented it from facing trial for the injuries that occurred on the Boardwalk. The courts, however, did not agree and sided with the plaintiffs. Generally, areas that generate substantial commercial revenue are not entitled to be shielded by trail immunity. The Venice Beach Boardwalk was home to a wide array of vendors and businesses that offered numerous goods for sale. This fact tended to point in favor of the plaintiffs’ argument that the Boardwalk wasn’t a trail, and the city wasn’t entitled to the benefit of trail immunity.

Many times, overcoming a defense motion for summary judgment (as the plaintiffs accomplished in this case) can be a key step in advancing meaningful settlement negotiations. Sometimes, only after losing a summary judgment motion and facing the prospect of a full trial will a defendant make a truly fair and appropriate settlement offer. In these plaintiffs’ cases, they were able to negotiate a beneficial settlement following the defeat of the city’s request for summary judgment. The plaintiffs agreed to end their cases in exchange for payments from the city totaling up to $14 million.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident, reach out to the skillful San Mateo pedestrian accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have been helping injured people seek the compensation they deserve for many years. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Injured California Pedestrian’s Soft Tissue Damage Leads to $950K Jury Award, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, Published April 12, 2018

California Pedestrians Recover $3M From Drunk Driver’s Insurer for Its Failure to Settle Civil Case, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, Published August 5, 2016