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California Bicycle Crash Victim Awarded $6.5 Million by City

Bicycle AccidentThe City of Los Angeles recently awarded $6.5 million to a bicyclist who suffered serious injuries while riding on a public street. Peter Godefroy was thrown from his bike after striking a pothole and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and several broken bones.

Godefroy’s personal injury lawsuit alleged that the Sherman Oaks street where the bicycle accident occurred was so poorly maintained that it had created a “concealed trap for bicyclists.” It further maintained that Godefroy’s TBI was so severe that he is expected to have “some permanent disability.” The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the settlement.

As The Los Angeles Times reports, the city settled a wrongful death suit earlier this year for $4.5 million. Edgardo Gabat died after being thrown from his bike when he struck a two-inch ridge in the pavement in Eagle Rock. In total, Los Angeles paid out more than $15 million for bicycle accident claims linked to dangerous road conditions during the last budget year.

Liability for Road Defects on Public Roads

As the lawsuits above highlights, drivers are not always responsible for bicycle crashes. In some cases, poor road maintenance and other dangerous road conditions may be to blame.

Under the California Tort Claims Act, “a public entity is not liable for an injury” except as provided by statute. With regard to premises liability claims against a government entity, Government Code section 835 provides, “a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of its property.” In order to establish liability, the plaintiff must establish:

  • The public entity owned or controlled the property
  • The property was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury
  • The injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition;
  • The dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred; and
  • A negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the scope of his employment created the dangerous condition; or the public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition a sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.

Lawsuits involving the California Tort Claims Act must also adhere to strict deadlines and notice requirements. Accordingly, they are often complex and require the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a California bicycle accident, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.