The California Supreme Court Has Ruled Against a City Claiming Immunity in a Fatal Bicycle Accident Case

The California Supreme Court Has Ruled Against a City Claiming Immunity in a Fatal Bicycle Accident Case

In many fatal bicycle accident cases involving another vehicle, the bicyclist's family could, in theory, pursue legal claims against the driver Reach out to a bicycle accident lawyer.. However, what if, under the rules of the road, your loved one appeared to be at fault? Is your family necessarily completely without recourse? As a recent bicycle accident case before the California Supreme Court demonstrates, the answer is "no." Whenever your family is dealing with the loss of a loved one due to a vehicle crash, it's worth your while to contact a skilled Santa Barbara wrongful death lawyer, who may spot options you didn't know you had.

Bicycle Accident

The victim, J.T., was bicycling in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes when he collided with an 80-foot tractor-trailer rig, suffering fatal injuries. The evidence showed that the crash occurred when the bicyclist entered a right-turn lane but, instead of turning, proceeded straight through the intersection, where the truck hit him.

The family's legal team, however, saw another factor that played an essential role in the bicyclist's death: the design of the road. The bicyclist was traveling along Hawthorne Boulevard, a winding thoroughfare that, in most areas, has a bike lane. However, for a brief half-mile stretch (which included the intersection where J.T. died), the boulevard did not have a bike lane. The city eschewed a bike lane in that area to create extra street parking for a nearby park.

This design was the crux of J.T.'s mother's case. The lawsuit alleged that the city was liable because it had created a dangerous condition on public property and also provided insufficient warning of that dangerous condition.

The Limits on Governmental Immunity in Failure to Warn Claims

The mother successfully overcame part of the city's arguments that California statutory law granted it immunity from liability. While the courts concluded that the city was immune from liability for the design of the area in dispute, the Supreme Court reached a different answer with regard to the mother's claim that the city was liable for failing to warn of the dangerous condition.

The key legal precedent that fueled the mother's success was a 50-year-old case named Cameron v. State of California. In that case, which challenged the safety of an S-curve on Highway 9 in Santa Cruz County, the high court said that, even in situations where the governmental entity is entitled to design immunity for a dangerous condition, the governmental entity "may nevertheless be liable for failure to warn of this dangerous condition."

Based on that ruling, the high court said that the bicyclist's mother was entitled to proceed with her failure to warn claim.

John N. Frye Attorney for Motorcycle Accident Lawyer California
 John N. Frye Car Accident Lawyer in California

Winning design defect or failure to warn cases against governmental entities can be difficult. That's because immunity often represents a major impediment to overcome. In situations like these, you need answers and advice upon which you can confidently rely -- about both the strength of your potential case and what it's worth. The knowledgeable Santa Barbara wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP can provide the experienced-based information you and your family deserve. Contact us at 805-617-1365 or through our website to get a free case consultation today.


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