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Court Reverses Summary Judgment Order in Favor of City After Pedestrians Injured in Crosswalk

Posted in Firm News

A California Superior Court reversed a lower court’s decision in Castro vs. City of Thousand Oaks, in which the plaintiffs brought a suit against a city after they were hit in a crosswalk. According to the court’s written opinion, a woman, her two children, and two other children in her care were waiting at a crosswalk. The woman pressed the button that was supposed to alert drivers that a pedestrian was walking. After pressing the button, the woman saw a car stop, so she proceeded to cross while pushing a baby stroller with the other children in tow. As she was crossing, she was hit by a van, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, but not the defendant at issue in this opinion.

Evidently, the driver of the van did not see the pedestrian crossing warning or the pedestrians. All of the pedestrians were hit and flew into the air and suffered serious injuries. The family brought a lawsuit, claiming that the city designed the crosswalk in a manner that made the plaintiffs believe that pressing the pedestrian crossing would allow them to safely cross. After the suit was brought against the City, it argued for summary judgment and attempted to show that they were protected from the suit by the theory of design immunity under the concept of sovereign immunity.

The higher court found the theory of design immunity is designed to prevent a jury from considering the same factors that the government agency approving the design already considered in determining the viability and safety of the project. In this case, however, the court found that the city never presented the design for safety approval, and as a result a jury should be able to determine whether there was a risk to the pedestrians.

New Mexico Sovereign Immunity Policy

Accidents are an unfortunate part of life, and in some situations accidents could have been avoided if one party did not engage in negligent behavior. In most cases when a person was negligent, they can be held responsible for the injuries that ensued. One important exception is when a government agency is involved.

In New Mexico, when an individual is injured on government property or by a government agency, there are several hurdles if they attempt to recover damages. Under the theory of sovereign immunity, a government entity may be protected from negligence suits against them. There are some very specific exceptions to the privilege of immunity. Some of these exceptions include if the tort was caused by a person operating a motor vehicle, or if they are providing health care services. Furthermore, even if the lawsuit is able to be brought against the government agency, there are still some limitations on liability. These limitations relate to the amount and types of damages a plaintiff may be able to receive.

Are You Contemplating Bringing a Suit Against a State, Local, or Federal Government?

If you or a loved one has been injured on government property or by a government agent, you may consider bringing a personal injury lawsuit. These cases have many hurdles and very specific requirements. It is important that you contact an attorney to assist you in navigating the complex nuances of these sorts of cases. An attorney at the Fine Law Firm can assist you in presenting the best possible case within the confines of the law. Contact an attorney at the Fine Law Firm today at 505-889-FINE to schedule a free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

DWI Suspect Involved in Fatal New Mexico Crash Free on Bond Awaiting Trial, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 27, 2015.

New Mexico Woman Arrested after Arriving at Husband’s DUI Stop Drunk, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2015.