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Jury finds Los Angeles liable for death at dangerous intersection

Los Angeles has thousands of busy intersections, but not all of them are safe. A recent jury verdict in Los Angeles County Superior Court awarded a widow and her young son a $23.7 million verdict against the city because it failed to fix the known hazards of an intersection in San Pedro. The hazard -- limited visibility -- caused a motorcycle accident that resulted in the death of a Northrup Grumman employee.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Summerland and Cabrillo Avenues. A hill and parked cars made the intersection partially blind, and cars wanting to make a left turn from Cabrillo into Summerland were forced to edge into traffic to see around the corner and look for oncoming traffic. The decedent was riding his motorcycle on Summerland when he struck a car on Cabrillo that had crept into the intersection. The motorcyclist was killed instantly.

The city called the verdict “outrageous” and said that the city would appeal. The plaintiffs’ attorney, on the other hand, noted that the evidence showed that the city knew that the intersection was dangerous but had failed to execute two previous plans for improving visibility. The city decided to act on these plans only after the fatal accident. The jury concluded from this evidence that the city was negligent and liable to the mother and son for damages.

Anyone who has been injured or who has lost a loved one in an accident at a dangerous intersection may wish to look into an analysis of potential theories of liability, the likelihood of holding the responsible government authority liable for failure to correct the hazard and an estimate of the probability of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “L.A. ordered to pay $23.7 million in 'dangerous intersection' death,” Laura J. Nelson, May 2, 2016

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