Earlier this month, Los Angeles agreed to pay a bicyclist $7.5 million for his accident-related injuries. The bicyclist was injured while riding in one of the city’s dedicated bike lanes. His bicycle tire hit a patch of pavement that had been uprooted by a nearby tree, causing him to be thrown from his bike. He suffered serious head injuries, even though he was wearing a helmet. The bicycle accident left him a quadriplegic. He filed a lawsuit against the city claiming that they were negligent. The city ultimately agreed to settle the claim. If you have been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact our Los Angeles office today for a free consultation.
Los Angeles Has a Duty to Provide Safe Roads
The city of Los Angeles has a lot of responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is maintaining the city’s infrastructure. Roads and sidewalks must be monitored. The paths Los Angeles residents travel every day must kept free from dangerous conditions. When the city of Los Angeles fails to maintain these paths they can be held responsible for injuries that occur. The basis for personal injury lawsuits against the government is usually negligence.
Limits on Government Liability
For many years, personal injury victims were unable to sue the government. Government entities, such as the city of Los Angeles, had sovereign immunity. This basically protected them from being liable for injuries on public property. Today, personal injury accident victims can sue the government. The California Tort Claims Act allows accident victims to recover compensation from the government if the government (or an employee) was negligent.
Los Angeles Dangerous Condition Lawsuits
In Los Angeles, claims are frequently filed against the government for injuries caused by a dangerous condition. Victims will argue that a dangerous condition existed and that the government was negligent in allowing it happen. There are two main ways to argue that the city should be held responsible for injuries caused by a dangerous condition.
The first approach requires showing that the government was negligent. Victims may be able to recover compensation if they can prove:
- The government owns the property where the injury occurred;
- The property was in a dangerous condition at the time of the accident;
- The dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm; and
- The dangerous condition was caused by a negligent or wrongful act of the government/employee.
Alternatively, victims can show that the government had actual knowledge of a dangerous condition and failed to do anything about it. Specifically, a city may be liable if the victim can prove:
- The city had actual or constructive notice about the dangerous condition;
- The city had a reasonable amount of time to fix the dangerous condition;
- The city failed to take action; and
- The dangerous condition caused an injury-causing accident.
Actual or Constructive Notice of a Dangerous Condition
In this case, the city of Los Angeles reportedly had knowledge about the dangerous condition. It had received multiple complaints before this serious accident. One report indicates that the city’s Bureau of Street Services had visited the site of the accident to inspect it. They did confirm that it needed repairs but did not consider it to be a dangerous condition. Specifically, they determined that it was a “non-emergency.” This non-emergency condition then led to the bicyclist’s life-altering injuries.
The bicyclist’s lawsuit was likely based on the claim that Los Angeles was negligent because they had received reports of the dangerous condition but failed to do anything to fix it. Los Angeles claims that the bike lane’s condition did not require immediate attention. However, the bicyclist’s accident seems to prove that theory to be false. Had this case gone to trial, the main question would have probably revolved around whether or not the condition “created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which occurred.”
Reports show that the root of a nearby tree had caused the bike lane pavement to buckle. This created a four-inch “bump” on the lane. The question would come down to whether or not the bicyclist’s injuries were the kind that were reasonably foreseeable. Should the city of Los Angeles known that serious life-threatening injuries could reasonably be caused by the broken pavement? The fact that the city settled the lawsuit may indicate that they did not think they would win the case.
Holding Government Entities Responsible for Negligent Acts
Personal injury lawsuits like these can help accident victims recover the compensation they need. This compensation can help to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress. These lawsuits can also be a powerful tool for Los Angeles residents. The city needs to stay on top of crumbling roads and paths. As this case shows, failing to fix dangerous conditions can be disastrous. Lawsuits like these can help to encourage cities like Los Angeles to be proactive. Cities may be more inclined to make sure their streets and bike lanes are safe to avoid paying out millions of dollars to accident victims.
If you have been injured in a Los Angeles accident you may be entitled to compensation. If the city failed to keep you safe you may be able to hold them accountable. There is a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys to schedule your free consultation today.