Lack of sidewalks on Pauba Road is to blame for a tragic accident that has left two women injured, according to Mike Baxter, father of one of the victims who suffered serious injuries. According to a news report in The Temecula Patch, the incident occurred the evening of March 11, 2013. The two women, 19 and 22, were walking westbound in the bicycle lane when they were hit by a Toyota Matrix driven by a female driver who had two young children in the car. Police said the glaring sun temporarily affected the driver's visibility causing her to drift into the bicycle lane and strike the two women.
Baxter's 19-year-old daughter sustained serious injuries and remains hospitalized with broken bones and a concussion. Once she is released from the hospital, she faces several months of rehabilitation, her father said. Baxter, his wife Melanie and the mother of the other woman who was struck, are speaking up asking the city to put in sidewalks on the dangerous and busy roadway.
Lack of Sidewalks on Busy Street
They point out the lack of sidewalk, weedy parkways on either side of the street, protruding trees and bushes that force pedestrians into the bicycle lane and the high speed of traffic on the roadway - all of which combine to cause an extremely dangerous situation for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as a high possibility of car accidents. There are several families with the children in the area and a public library that brings a lot of foot traffic on that street. The city's police chief said there have not been a high number of incidents on the stretch of Pauba Road where the women were hit.
The Issue of Government Liability
When a traffic accident is caused by a dangerous or defectively designed roadway, the city or governmental agency responsible for maintaining that roadway can be held liable for the incident. This is especially true if there have been prior accidents on that roadway, if the city knew that a dangerous condition existed and still did nothing about it.
In my opinion, the least the city can do in this case is conduct a traffic study at that location to see how many vehicles travel that roadway, what the approximate vehicle speed is, how many pedestrians use the roadway and how many accidents have taken place there over the last five years. It just doesn't make sense for the city to wait until someone is killed on that roadway. In this case, Baxter's daughter may be able to file a claim against the city seeking compensation for her injuries and damages. However, any personal injury claim against a governmental entity must be filed within 180 days of the incident, under California Government Code Section 911.2.