Case details

Safety installations could have prevented crash: plaintiff





Result type

Not present

brain, traumatic brain injury
On Oct. 10, 2014, plaintiff Ivan Torres, 17, a high school student, was a rear seat passenger in a sport utility vehicle operated by Joel Sanchez Sosa, 18, a high school student, and traveling on southbound U.S. Route 101, in Humboldt County. When they were just south of the Stafford Road interchange, in Scotia, their vehicle slowly drifted off to the right of the slow lane of U.S.-101, crossed the shoulder under the speed limit, entered the unpaved top of a severe slope that had no guardrail, and collided with a series of trees on the slope. Sosa was killed, and Torres sustained to his head. Torres sued Sosa’s estate and the state of California, which owned and maintained the roadway. Torres alleged that Sosa was negligent in the operation of the vehicle and that the state was negligent for the dangerous condition of public property. Sosa’s insurer tendered its minimal (undisclosed) policy limits, and the matter continued against the state only. Torres’ counsel contended that all of the occupants of Sosa’s vehicle were wearing their seat belts and that none of the occupants were intoxicated. However, Sosa was alleged to have fallen asleep at the wheel prior to the accident. Torres’ counsel contended that the accident could have been avoided completely if the state had put in rumble strips on the road that were allegedly recommended before the accident. Counsel asserted that if there had been rumble strips, there would have been sufficient time for Sosa to recover and avoid the incident. Torres’ counsel also asserted that if the state had put in a guardrail near the slope, as its standards called for, the vehicle would never have left the roadway. The state’s counsel moved for summary judgment, asserting that the state was immune from liability under design immunity and that the roadway was not in a dangerous condition. Counsel also raised issues as to the comparative fault of Sosa and the lack of prior accidents on the subject roadway. The trial court denied the state’s motion., Torres sustained a traumatic brain injury. He was taken to a hospital for treatment. However, he claimed he has issues related to his TBI that still affect him. He alleged that as a result, he will require future medical care. Torres sought recovery of future medical care costs, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering.
Superior Court of Humboldt County, Humboldt, CA

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