The family of 5-year-old Sergio Flores has filed a lawsuit against the city of Temecula and Caltrans, which states that a dangerous condition on the roadway caused the fatal accident. Sergio was hit by a pickup while riding his bike. The accident occurred near Rancho Vista and Calle Rio Vista on December 22, 2007. Our source for this blog is this news report in The Press-Enterprise.
The lawsuit alleges that faulty road design led to Sergio’s accident. It also states that both the city and Caltrans knew or should have known that the lack of sidewalks on both sides of the street near a high school would pose a hazard to children who are walking or riding their bikes. The suit also states that drivers may not be able to see children walking or riding their bikes in time to avoid an accident. In addition, the plaintiffs allege that the dangerous street intersection did not have adequate lighting or speed controls.
Under the provisions of California’s Government Code Section 835, a public entity is liable for the damages of a person injured because of a condition of public property when the injured person proves that:
• There was a dangerous condition on the public property at the time of injury • The injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition • The dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury of the kind that occurred; and • Either (a) The negligent or wrongful action or failure to act of an employee of the public entity created the dangerous condition, or (b) the public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition a sufficient time before the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.
A public entity may absolve itself from liability for creating or failing to remedy a dangerous roadway condition by showing that it would have been too costly and impractical (unreasonable) for the public entity to have done anything else but what it did or did not do (Government Code Section 835.4). A dangerous condition cannot be the absence of traffic control or warning signs, alone (Government Code Section 830.4).
Our firm filed a similar lawsuit against the City of Hanford on behalf of 14-year-old Christopher Chan, who was hit by a car at a dangerous intersection and suffered severe injuries including a debilitating brain injury. The City of Hanford settled with Christopher and his family for $5 million.
I hope Sergio’s family gets the compensation they deserve. I’m sure Sergio’s parents would rather turn back the hands of time and have their little boy back alive and well rather than take this compensation. No amount of money will bring their son back or heal their hearts. But the money will hopefully help them move on with their lives and fix the dangerous condition on that Temecula roadway so that more lives are not lost or more children are not injured at that dangerous intersection.