Thousand Oaks Dangerous Intersection Causes Concern
The grandmother of an toddler whose aunt threw him out of the way before she was struck and critically injured at a Thousand Oaks intersection accident on March 10, 2009, is urging the City Council to make that dangerous intersection safer for pedestrians. According to a news report in the Ventura County Star, 2-year-old Mitchell Ito was crossing the intersection of Westlake Boulevard and Devonshire Avenue in a marked crosswalk with his aunt, 49-year-old Argelia Rojas, when they were hit. Mitchell suffered minor injuries, but Rojas is still in the hospital in critical condition.
Ito’s family says this intersection has long been a problem for pedestrians. They and other parents have taken the matter to the City Council. Neighbors say motorists speed along the four-lane road. Drivers don’t pay attention to the crosswalk and do not slow down for pedestrians who are crossing the street, many say. Other neighbors said the crosswalk needs some type of signals to get the attention of motorists. Parents of children who attend a school nearby said they want to see a flashing light and yellow pedestrian signs. Police, who have been doing targeted enforcement at the intersection, apparently cited 21 drivers for failing to yield to a pedestrian during a 90-minute operation
In this case, the question that arises is whether the city of Thousand Oaks is liable to pedestrians who are injured at that dangerous intersection. California 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 the condition of public property. The injured person must prove that:
- A dangerous condition existed 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
- The public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition a sufficient time before the injury to have taken measured to protect against the dangerous condition
If the city decides to do nothing about this intersection, they could be held liable for any pedestrian accidents that occur there. In my opinion, the city will be well-served to put in additional signage and lighting at that crosswalk to not only make it safer for pedestrians, but also to avoid liability.