The family of 46-year-old Ernesto Beltran who died after losing control of his car and plummeting into a Los Angeles flood-control ditch is suing the city and the county for not building a barrier along the freeway he was driving on, according to this news report. Beltran’s family alleges in their wrongful death lawsuit that the city and county acted negligently when they failed to install the barrier along the stretch of the 110 Freeway where Beltran dropped into the Arroyo Seco Channel.
The lawsuit states that transit officials had recommended that the safety barrier be constructed at that location more than a year before Beltran’s fatal accident in February 2007. California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) officials say a $21-million plan to build a barrier in that section of the 110 Freeway is in the works and that construction of the barrier will begin in the spring.
California’s Government Code section 835 provides that a public entity or governmental agency is liable for damages to an injured person or his or her family 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
In Beltran’s case, it seems that the governmental agencies involved did have previous notice of the dangerous road condition about a year before the fatal accident took place. In my opinion, this case will most likely be settled before it gets to court. That might be the right way to go for the city and county of Los Angeles. I would also hope that the barrier on the 110 Freeway is installed as soon as possible so no more lives are lost on that dangerous roadway.