A mother was crossing the street with her two daughters, 3 and 6, as well as a family friend, age 5, and another girl, age 2, who was being pushed in a stroller. They approached a crosswalk at an intersection, pressed the button, waited for a signal and, when they were given the “all clear,” they entered the roadway.
Seconds later, an unlicensed driver barreled through the intersection, barely braking before striking four of them. Only the 2-year-old, whose stroller the mother pushed away seconds before impact, was spared. The woman and the other three children were seriously injured – the 6-year-old critically.
As they continue to recover, the mother has filed a lawsuit against the city, for allegedly creating a dangerous situation at the intersection and failing to take the proper steps to make that intersection safer, despite knowing the conditions. In Castro v. City of Thousand Oaks, before a California appellate court, she argued the city should be liable for creating a “dizzying” amount of signals that confused drivers, and also for giving pedestrians a false sense of security. She also noted there was no median or “safe haven” in the middle of the busy road for pedestrians who suddenly found themselves in danger.
While the trial court dismissed those arguments, granting summary judgment to defendant city, the California Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District, Division Six, reversed, finding material, triable issues of fact as to whether the intersection was dangerous. That mean the case will be allowed to go to trial.
Our Charlotte pedestrian accident lawyers know that while this incident happened on the other coast, this is a major problem here in North Carolina as well. According to a report released last summer by the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation, the annual, average number of pedestrian crashes was higher from 2008- 2012, as compared to 2003-2007. That disparity was most prominent in urban areas, which reported an 11 percent increase during that time.
Between 2008 and 2012, a total of nearly 13,200 pedestrian crashes were reported to authorities. Every year, an estimated 170 pedestrians are killed and another 180 are seriously injured every year in this state, the report indicated. But the actual number of pedestrians injured or killed is actually much higher, because the way the state tallies this figure only reflects the “first” pedestrian reported on in the crash. Cases like the one mentioned above – with multiple pedestrians – are only counted as a singular injury or death. The state did note such instances were “relatively rare,” but it still skews the numbers lower than they actually are.
While urban areas are known to have a higher number of overall pedestrian crashes, it’s worthy to point out that in North Carolina, the Coastal Plain counties – which tend to be more rural – have a higher percentage of fatal pedestrian crashes. This is mostly attributed to the structure of rural roads, which have higher speed limits, few roadways with lighting and a lack of sidewalks with paths or shoulders on which to walk. While rural areas in North Carolina only counted for 24 percent of total pedestrian crashes, they accounted for 53 percent of those that were fatal.
When these incidents are caused at least in part due to poor roadway design, discussing legal options with an experienced attorney is a worthwhile endeavor.
Contact our Carolina personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
Castro v. City of Thousand Oaks, Aug. 31, 2015, California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District Division Six
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Spierer v. Rossman – No Duty of Care Owed by Missing Student’s Friends, Aug. 29, 2015, Charlotte Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Blog