Back in 2012, seven year-old Angelica Arreola and her parents and sister were walking home from Ritter Elementary School in Watts, California when a car hit the family in a designated crosswalk and quickly drove off. Arreola's father was killed on impact and she died later that year from the injuries sustained from the fatal car crash. But this was not a random tragedy but one that could have been avoided had the city and school paid attention to the warning signs and complaints about that very crosswalk.
In filing a wrongful death lawsuit (the suit also alleged negligence and emotional distress) against the city of Los Angeles, the grieving mother and sister alleged that the school crosswalk the family used that afternoon was something the school and city knew for years to be a dangersous spot for speeders. The Los Angeles Times reports on the details of the claims, "Drivers turning off South Alameda street, a street designed to drive fast, were often unaware of the school or their need to slow down. The street lacked stop signs and speed bumps, and drivers' view of crosswalk signs were often obstructed by trees and foliage and during evenings, the setting sun." But it was not just the location of the crosswalk that was the problem but the level of knowledge that the city had regarding the potential for a deadly accident. The Times also notes that there were numerous complaints as well as a comprehensive traffic study that included a handful of safety upgrades that simply never happened.
Hopefully the $2.6 Million judgement coupled with the media visibility of this wrongful death lawsuit will get those safety suggestions put into place and avoid any future incidents. A city can be held responsible in a wrongful death lawsuit-- we actually recently blogged about the US government's $1Million settlement in another case involving a minor.
Successful California wrongful death lawsuits like this one involve proving negligence (among other things) on the part of the other party. Part of the negligence analysis in this case looks at whether the defendant knew or should have known about the dangers of the crosswalk. In this case, whether the city was negligent was a pretty straightforward analysis in that the school district very much knew of the dangers of the crosswalk and did little if anything to rectify the situation. The fact that the crosswalk was a school crosswalk and involves the death of a young child and her father makes the school's breach of their duties to their students all the more tragic.
If you are dealing with a pedestrian death and wondering if you have a case, give us a call today today to discuss your case and any questions you may have. We are always available and will work hard to get your case handled quickly and for an amount that reflects the impact of your loss. We have over 40 years of experience and a 95%+ success rate. We look forward to working with you.