roadway design

Roadway Design: Admissibility of Prior Accidents

By on January 7, 2012 - Comments off

Ceja v. Department of Transportation, (Fifth District, November 12, 2011) 2011 WL 6307881, — Cal.Rptr. 3d —-

The heirs of two men who were killed when their vehicle crossed a center median on a six-lane state highway and collided with oncoming vehicles, filed an action for wrongful death against the Department of Transportation. The plaintiffs alleged that the roadway was in a dangerous condition due the absence of a median barrier to prevent cross-median accidents, despite a number of prior similar collisions. At trial the plaintiffs introduced evidence showing there had been a history of accidents at the location, and that several years earlier state engineers had recommended a barrier, which had not yet been installed as of the 2003 accident.

The trial court granted a motion in limine to exclude evidence of accidents which had occurred prior to 1994, when the roadway had been widened from 4 lanes to 6, finding that the conditions were substantially different than those which existed at the time of the accident. Following a jury verdict in favor of the State, the plaintiffs appealed, contending that the trial court had erroneously excluded the pre-1994 accidents. However, the court of appeal affirmed the judgment, holding that the trial court had not abused its discretion in excluding accidents which had occurred before the highway was substantially changed: Read the rest »