California Family Recovers $23M from City for Dangerous Intersection that Led to Fatal Crash

When you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, there are several people or entities who owe you a legal duty. Other drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely. If they don’t, and their negligence injures you, you can sue them for the harm you suffered. Additionally, governments have a duty to maintain the roads and intersections they control in a safe condition. In one recent case from Southern California, the Los Angeles Times reported on a case in which the City of Los Angeles’ failure to maintain an intersection in a safe condition, instead allowing unlimited parking to create a “blind” corner, triggered a $23 million verdict in favor of the family of a scientist killed at that intersection.

The 2013 accident that led to the case occurred at at the intersection of Summerland and Cabrillo Avenues in northwest San Pedro, where there was no traffic light. Traffic on Summerland had no stop sign, and, at that time, the city allowed unlimited street parking in the area. A driver who was trying to turn from Cabrillo onto Summerland, inched his way into the intersection to see if it was safe to advance. As he did so, his vehicle was struck by a motorcycle driven by T.G. T.G., a scientist who worked on satellites for Northrop Grumman, crashed as a result of clipping the SUV and died from his injuries. T.G., whom witnesses estimated to be traveling at about 35 mph, was determined not to be speeding, and the driver was not issued any citations for his role either.

The T.G. family sued the City of Los Angeles, arguing that the intersection was, due to its design, a dangerous condition that caused the man’s fatal accident. Among other things, the unlimited parking was a problem because, they claimed, it prevented drivers turning from Cabrillo onto Summerland from seeing the area in a safe way. According to the Times report, attorneys for the family argued in their case that drivers turning left from Cabrillo onto Summerland were left with no choice but to nudge their cars into oncoming traffic to see around the blind corner and that the residents of the northwest part of San Pedro had complained about the intersection for years.

Further strengthening the family’s case was evidence that the city had been aware of the issue for more than a decade but had made no improvements. The family offered evidence that the city had made plans going back as far as 2001 to address the blind intersection but did not bring those plans to fruition. After T.G.’s crash, the city added a stop sign on Summerland and restricted street parking in the area.

In order to succeed in a case like this, the family needed to show that the city controlled the intersection, that the intersection was dangerous, that the danger caused the crash, and that the crash caused the man’s injuries. The law also obliged them to show that city knew about the danger or should have known about it.

The city argued that it had never intended to make any changes to the intersection, that there was nothing wrong with the intersection, and that the fatal crash that claimed T.G.’s life was the result of his negligence and negligence on the part of the driver.

The jury, however, found the T.G. family’s case more credible than the city’s. The jury awarded the family $23.7 million in damages. The Times report described the award the T.G. family received as unusually large, with the city calling it “outrageous” and promising an appeal. One could conceivably argue that what was truly outrageous was the city doing nothing for more than a decade to address an intersection it knew or should have known was very dangerous for drivers and their passengers.

When you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an auto accident, it is well worth your while to consult experienced California counsel right away so that your attorneys can begin working on your case promptly. The hardworking San Mateo motorcycle accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos are dedicated to helping injured people get the compensation they deserve. 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:

Unfair Surprises at Trial and Your California Truck Accident Case, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 19, 2016

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