A California city has agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of a man who died in a motorcycle accident in 2009. The 58-year-old California motorcycle accident victim died after a 17-year-old girl driving a Toyota Corolla made a left-hand turn at a controlled intersection in San Diego.
The intersection reportedly was accident prone as the layout gave drivers making a left hand turn the mistaken illusion that they had the right of way over traffic traveling in the opposite direction. The motorcyclist and the Corolla were traveling in opposite directions when the wreck occurred.
The motorcycle rider swerved in an effort to avoid the accident, but was not able to avoid the vehicle completely. The motorcyclist hit the rear passenger side of the Corolla and suffered fatal head injuries.
The family of the motorcyclist sued the city for wrongful death, claiming the “turn lane’s position combined with the position of the then existing traffic signals gave drivers the confusing illusion they had the right-of-way on a green signal to turn left onto Cedar Street.”
The lawsuit also alleged the city failed to provide signs warning southbound drivers of their duty to yield to oncoming traffic before making a left turn on a green light. A dozen accidents were reported to the city at the same intersection in the three years leading up to the fatal motorcycle accident in 2009.
Several efforts to correct the safety issue at the intersection reportedly failed in the years preceding the motorcycle wreck, due to budget issues. The city installed a left-turn signal at the intersection three months after the fatal motorcycle accident.
The city denies any wrongdoing, but has agreed to a seven figure settlement in the case.
Source: San Diego Union Tribune, “San Diego pays $1.8 million for traffic death,” Craig Gustafson 7 Jun 2011