Case details

Road defect caused loss of control and collision: plaintiffs




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

back, brain, brain injury, chest, clavicle, cognition, face, facial bone, fracture, head, headaches, mental, nose, psychological, rib, shoulder, traumatic brain injury
On July 4, 2010, plaintiff Brooke Wagner, a student in her 20s, was driving east on Gilman Springs Road in Riverside, accompanied by her father, plaintiff Robert Wagner, a foreman in his 50s, in the front passenger seat, and her friend, plaintiff Thomas Madril, a student in his 20s, seated in the rear of the vehicle. Near the T-Intersection with Sublette Road East, their vehicle collided head-on with a vehicle operated by Atrina Collins, who had crossed into oncoming traffic from westbound Gilman Springs Road. The Wagners and Madril claimed multiple from the accident. Ms. and Mr. Wagner and Madril sued Collins and the maintainer of the intersection, the county of Riverside. The Wagners and Madril alleged that Collins was negligent in the operation of her vehicle, and that the county was negligent in the design and maintenance of the intersection, creating a dangerous condition of public property. Plaintiffs’ counsel asserted that unbeknownst to both Ms. Wagner and Collins, the subject area of Gilman Springs Road contained various defects that caused vehicles heading westbound to immediately lose control after passing the T-Intersection with Sublette Road East. Counsel also asserted that when vehicles lose control, they either went off-road or collided head-on with opposing traffic, and that the latter occurred with Collins’ vehicle. Counsel further asserted that the defects in the subject road are subtle and not obviously apparent to motorists, and that there was a collision history on the roadway from 2002 to 2010. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that the dangerous condition at issue involved a combination of a reverse curve design (left curve to right curve to left curve) with slanted alignment, bank and slope, and changing elevations, as well as a multitude of improper and/or ineffective traffic control devices, including speed limits. Counsel further contended that in addition to the alleged roadway defects, the county negligently failed to install a center barrier when it engaged in other remedial measures. In addition, plaintiffs’ counsel asserted that Collins was negligent, but that she was also a victim of the dangerous road condition that caused the subject accident. The county claimed that Collins was at fault for the accident, noting that in her statement to the police at the scene, Collins claimed she saw a car approaching, got scared, put her arms in the air, covered face, and lost control of her vehicle. In response, plaintiffs’ counsel contended that they deposed the investigating police officers and found that Collins’ comments were taken out of order. Thus, counsel contended that Collins’ comments were actually consistent with the defects in the road, which caused Collins to lose control of her vehicle before taking her hands off the wheel and covering her face., The plaintiffs were taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance and brought to an emergency room. Ms. Wagner suffered an L4 compression fracture of the lumbar spine, which healed without the need for surgery. She treated with a few months of physical therapy, and claimed she was physically limited during her recovery. Thus, Ms. Wagner claimed roughly $70,000 in past medical costs and sought additional damages for her pain and suffering. Mr. Wagner claimed the most severe from the accident, including a facial fractures, a loss of consciousness and a traumatic brain injury, as well as an intestinal injury, a fractured clavicle, left elbow lacerations and four rib fractures. He was subsequently hospitalized and underwent surgical repairs to his clavicle and intestines. Mr. Wagner claimed that while his physical have mostly healed, his traumatic brain injury has greatly impaired him. He alleged that he continues to suffer cognitive impairments, including memory loss, an inability to multitask and other difficulties functioning, as well as residual headaches. He also alleged that his prevent him from being able to return to work as a foreman. Thus, Mr. Wagner sought recovery of roughly $300,000 in past medical costs and an unspecified amount of damages for his future medical care, lost earnings, and past and future pain and suffering. Madril suffered a lacerated spleen and minor soft-tissue strains and sprains to his neck and back, all of which have resolved. Thus, he claimed $40,000 in damages for his past medical costs and sought additional damages for his past pain and suffering. Defense counsel did not seriously dispute damages, other than the nature and extent of Mr. Wagner’s cognitive impairments, in which counsel argued that the alleged impairments were not as severe as Mr. Wagner claimed.
Superior Court of Riverside County, Riverside, CA

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