In 2015, Philip Ramon Alvarez sustained a traumatic brain injury in a Los Angeles motorcycle accident. His bike reportedly hit several potholes on a San Pedro street, causing him to lose control of the vehicle and crash. Now he’s receiving more than $6 million from the city for his injuries. The Los Angeles City Council voted to pay the injured rider millions of dollars to settle his personal injury lawsuit.
Potholes in Los Angeles
A pothole is defined as a hole, depression, or cavity in the pavement. Potholes can be incredibly dangerous. Not only can they cause hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars of damage to vehicles, they can also contribute to devastating car accidents. If a tire hits a pothole, a driver can lose control of a vehicle and either crash or veer into nearby lanes of traffic.
It’s critical for cities to make sure that its roads are smooth and free of hazards like potholes. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in Los Angeles. Los Angeles city roads are plagued with dangerous potholes. It’s become so bad that the city council has authorized $250,000 in emergency funding to address the issue over the next year.
Why are potholes such a problem in Los Angeles? Factors that can contribute to potholes include:
- Harsh winter weather
- Expanding and contracting groundwater
- Heavy vehicles, including trucks and commercial vehicles
- Wear and tear of daily use
- Loose soil structure beneath the road, and
- Cracks in the pavement or asphalt.
Cities should know that roads are prone to developing potholes. It’s up to city officials and employees to stay on top of the problem. Failing to do so can result in liability for accidents that occur.
City Negligence Blamed For Devastating Motorcycle Accident
Generally speaking, the city of Los Angeles can’t be sued. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The city can be named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit if its own negligence – or the negligence of one its employees – causes an injury.
The city has a responsibility to make sure that its roads, sidewalks, and infrastructure are in good repair. Motorcyclists like Alvarez have to be able to travel the city safely. If the city knows – or should know – that its roads are in disrepair or dangerous to travel, it has to:
- Warn drivers, bicyclists, and/or pedestrians, AND
- Fix the problem.
Alvarez claimed that he was involved in a motorcycle accident because of several potholes on Los Angeles city roads. He sued the city, accusing it of negligence. He argued that he was injured because of its failure to tend to its growing pothole problem.
What Damages Can I Recover If I Sue the Government?
If city negligence causes an accident, the city can be held financially accountable for resulting injuries. While the process for filing a lawsuit against the government is different, the damages available to victims are ultimately the same. Accident victims are entitled to both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are paid to compensate for the financial costs of an accident. Getting an economic award should put victims back in the financial situation they were in before the accident. Examples include medical expenses, lost wages, and disability.
Non-economic damages are paid to compensate for hard-to-value injuries. These awards often vary significantly from one case to another. Examples include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.