Dangerous condition of property may have caused pedestrian accident

A public entity, such as a town, may be liable for personal injuries caused by a dangerous condition on its property under certain circumstances. A victim must show that a dangerous condition existed on the public property and that there was a causal relationship between that condition and the victim's injury, among other requirements

This concept was demonstrated with regard to pedestrian accidents in the California Court of Appeal case of Cole v. Town of Los Gatos.

A pedestrian struck by a car

The victim was attending a baseball game at Blossom Hill Park in Los Gatos and had parked her sport utility vehicle on a graveled shoulder running between the north edge of the park and Blossom Hill Road. The road, baseball park and graveled shoulder all belonged to the town of Los Gatos.

After the game, the victim was standing behind her vehicle when she was struck by a car driven by an intoxicated driver, who veered off the road and collided with her. The victim alleged that the dangerous condition of the public property was the cause of her injury.

The trial court granted a summary judgment to the town, ending the victim's case on the basis she had not shown the existence of a physical deficiency on the public property. She appealed this ruling.

Ample evidence of the dangerous condition

The California Court of Appeal held that the victim's theory of the case was amply supported by the evidence. The design of Blossom Hill Road and the adjacent gravel shoulder created a danger for people in the gravel shoulder, since it was usual for drivers to drive onto the graveled shoulder area to bypass stopped traffic.

The woman who had caused traffic to stop on the day of the accident because she was making a left turn into her driveway had declared that nearly every time she made the turn, people would pass her on the right. Other witnesses confirmed this pattern.

In addition, there was sufficient evidence that the graveled shoulder was located and purposed so that its use as a parking area for those visiting the baseball park was encouraged. Witnesses testified that it was "by far the most convenient location for parking during little league games" and that cars were always parked there during the games. The signage of the town restricted parking only near a fire hydrant and a vehicle access gate, reinforcing the idea that parking in the gravel shoulder was allowed.

Finally, the physical characteristics of the area also acted as a temptation to drivers to do as the drunk driver had done, since the absence of a second lane combined with people attempting to turn into their driveways resulted in back-ups of traffic. The narrowness of the pavement then made it impossible to pass without entering the graveled shoulder.

The evidence raised numerous questions of fact, and it was error for the trial court to have granted a summary judgment in favor of the town. The decision was reversed and the victim would still have her full day in court to make her case.

The negotiation and courtroom skills you need

If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, you should contact an attorney with years of experience in similar cases. Seek representation from an attorney with the negotiation and courtroom skills to maximize the compensation you should receive for your injuries.