201410.31
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Claim for Death due to Dangerous Road Condition Heard at Superior Court

A jury has awarded $425,000 compensation to the mother of a man who was killed in an auto accident, after her claim for death due to a dangerous road condition was heard at the Superior Court of California in San Diego.

On 28th August 2012, Mary Helen Aguilar was driving her Honda Odyssey on California State Route 78 in San Diego, when she collided head-on with a Pontiac Vibe driven by Francisco Perez. Mary Helen, two of her daughters and Francisco were killed in the accident.

A third daughter was severely injured and is now in a paraplegic condition due to the head injuries she sustained in the accident, while a fourth daughter suffered multiple orthopedic injuries. The front seat passenger in the Honda Odyssey – Gail Romero – suffered serious orthopedic injuries and a head trauma.

As Francisco had been working at the time of the accident, Mary Helen´s surviving daughters made a claim for the wrongful death of their mother against Francisco´s employer – Tricor America Inc – and Mary Helen´s former husband also claimed for the loss of his two daughters. Gail Romero also sought compensation for her personal injuries, and her husband made a claim for loss of consortium.

Tricor America settled the claims made against the company, but then – together with Francisco´s mother Mercedes Perez – made a claim for death due to a dangerous road condition against the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), claiming that the accident had occurred due to a hazardous stretch of road which the department had been advised of and which it had failed to maintain.

In their action against Caltrans, the plaintiffs contended that the stretch of State Route 78 in which the accident happened constituted a dangerous condition of public property due to a high pavement edge on the north shoulder of the roadway. They claimed that this dangerous condition was a substantial factor in causing the crash and that Caltrans had corrected the opposite shoulder fourteen months earlier but had never got around to fixing the side responsible for the accident.

The jury agreed that State Route 78 was in a dangerous condition and that Caltrans was at fault. They ordered Caltrans to indemnify Tricor for the compensation it had already paid in settlement of the previous claims and for the property damage to the Pontiac Vibe that was being driven at the time of the accident by Francisco Perez.

The jury also awarded Mercedes Perez $425,000 in settlement of her claim for death due to a dangerous road condition to account for her loss of love, care, comfort, society and support occasioned by her son´s death.