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Pedestrian Accident Fatality Blamed on City’s Failure to Install Traffic Signal

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A municipality cannot be sued over its failure to install a traffic signal at an intersection where a boy was killed, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in affirming a summary judgment, according to an article in Lawyers USA weekly magazine.

According to the article, the plaintiff’s 13-year-old son was fatally struck by a car while he tried to cross an intersection in Phoenix. The plaintiffs alleged in the lawsuit that the teenager died because the city did not place a traffic signal at the busy intersection where the accident occurred. The parents particularly accused the city of being negligent in “adopting and implementing a traffic control computer program that prioritized the need for signals based on an intersection’s traffic volume, proximity to schools and collision history,” the article stated.

The city claimed immunity for policy-making decisions made by a municipality arguing that the decision not to put a traffic signal at that intersection fell within the scope of such immunity. The court agreed and in fact, said this is especially the kind of decision that should be protected because it involved the “exercise of discretion” and involved determining how to study the traffic issue, the type of resources to allocate for its study and execution and what process to follow in order to achieve that.

This is indeed disappointing for the plaintiffs, who seem to sincerely believe that their child died because there was a dangerous condition on the street and that it was not in the city’s priority list to take care of that. As taxpayers, they have every reason to expect safe streets from their government.

Pedestrian safety often gets put in the back burner these days in City Council and County Supervisors meetings, where the focus seems to be what kind of developments to allow and how to run the city as a business most efficiently. Yes, the city and county should be run efficiently. But, it is also not a money-making machine. What sets government apart from a corporation is that its larger goal is not profit. It is to take care of its people and keep them safe and healthy. Sometimes, our local governments tend to lose track of those priorities and that is disappointing indeed.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident caused by negligence or a dangerous road condition, call me, John Bisnar of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, for a free consultation. 800-259-6373.

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