A 58-year-old Glen Ellen man died in a head-on collision on a section of Highway 12 in a legal passing area where there have been at least four auto accident deaths in the past five or six years, a news report in the Times Herald stated. According to the article, Alfredo Alcaraz was killed when his 1998 Honda Civic was struck by a 2003 Toyota Camry driven by 63-year-old Allen Gates of Santa Rosa.
Officials said Gates was eastbound when he unsafely passed a garbage truck. That led to a head-on crash with the Honda, which was going westbound and the impact pushed Gates’ Toyota into the path of the garbage truck. The driver of the truck was not injured but the Honda spun into a ditch.
Although officials say Gates made an unsafe pass, it sounds like there was a dangerous condition on that freeway, which has caused several crashes over the last six years. If there is a dangerous condition on Highway 12 that is causing or contributing to the accidents, the governmental agency in charge of that portion of the highway could be held fully or partially responsible for this death and other injuries that have occurred there, which might not even have made it to the news.
It is important to note that prior to suing a California governmental agency, a claimant must file a “claim” within 180 days of the loss and file a lawsuit within 180 days of the denial of the claim.
We often represent clients who have suffered severe and debilitating injuries because a municipality or a government agency failed to do its job and fix a hazardous condition at a clearly dangerous intersection or roadway. Although governmental agencies will try to claim immunity in most of these cases, we’ve held in many instances that their accountability to the public supersedes their immunity. Public safety is the number one priority of government. Keeping our roadways and highways safe for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians is a big part of that responsibility.