If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in San Diego or elsewhere in California and think that it would be naive to expect a large settlement compensating for your injuries, think again.
In reality, multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts in bicycle accident-related personal injury cases are quite common for California despite the state calling itself a bike-friendly state.
This past week, a jury in Los Angeles ordered California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the city of Los Angeles to pay a staggering $9.1 million to a bicyclist who suffered a brain injury after he swerved to avoid a pile of sand and rocks on Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades, and lost control of his bicycle.
Unfortunately, debris on highways and even along bicycle lanes are not an uncommon phenomenon in Los Angeles, or San Diego, for that matter. The bike accident occurred in July 2014 when the injured man, named Robert Jeffrey Watts, was traveling home.
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According to the details of the lawsuit, which was reviewed by our San Diego bicycle accident attorney at the Law Office of Edward J. Babbitt, APC., Watts followed road signs that instructed bicyclists to ride on the shoulder of the highway between the lanes and the cliff.
When Watts noticed a huge pile of sand and rocks on the pavement, he swerved into the travel lane to avoid the debris. As a result of his sudden maneuver, the cyclist was hit by a truck’s side mirror, which caused him to lose control of his bike. After a medical evaluation, doctors described his injury as a “significant amount of brain damage.”
The injury impacted the man’s earning capacity. Watts, who owned a thriving freelance camera company, is no longer able to return to work as result of the brain injury caused by the devastating bicycle crash. This explains why the settlement amounted to a whopping $9.1 million, which is a rather big amount for a bicycle-related personal injury case.
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“This case alone proves that even bicycle-related personal injury cases can be worth millions of dollars in compensation,” says our experienced bicycle accident attorney at the leading San Diego Law Firm. “In fact, the $9.1-million verdict is one of the largest bicycle-related jury awards in Los Angeles history.”
Despite the fact that Los Angeles officials are actively trying to brand their city as bicycle-friendly, lawsuits filed against the local government and public entities for their failure to exercise a reasonable duty of care and ensure bicyclists’ safety on the roads of LA have skyrocketed in recent years.
Failure to maintain bicycle lanes and other public roads, highways and areas designated for bicyclists exposes the city, county, or municipality to lawsuits. If a city fails to fix a dangerous condition in a timely manner, it can be held liable for any resulting injuries and damages.
Sand and debris on the pavement is not something out of the extraordinary or something that could not have been reasonably expected. In fact, sand and rocks frequently roll down the cliff and onto the pavement in the area where Watts was injured in the bicycle accident.
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Investigation as part of the lawsuit against Caltrans and Los Angeles showed that although Caltrans owns the highway on which Watts sustained injuries and which is very popular with cyclists, it hired Los Angeles to sweep the pavement at least once a month to prevent debris and other dangerous conditions.
Jury testimony as well as inspection and maintenance records did not clearly show how often Los Angeles inspected the area or swept the pavement to keep it hazard-free. Still, as you can see, despite the fact that the legal case lacked evidentiary support, the plaintiff was able to recover more than $9 million.
The $9.1-million judgment is expected to be split between Los Angeles and California. Have you suffered a serious injury in a bicycle crash in San Diego or elsewhere in California? Your case could be worth millions of dollars, too. Talk to our San Diego bicycle accident attorney today to find out. Call for a free case evaluation.