$500,000 SETTLEMENT- DANGEROUS CURVE CAUSES DEATH OF STUDENT
A 21 year old Bay Area college student was driving home from school on Redwood Road in Oakland, California in his 1976 Triumph TR 7. He was driving at 35 mph within the speed limit. At a sharp downhill curve in the road, his car went out of control and collided with a tree, causing the student’s death. There were no witnesses and because of a light rain there were no skidmarks left on the road.
We contended that Redwood Road (35th Avenue) in Oakland was in a dangerous condition due to a sharp curve located in an 8 percent downgrade with no positive banking or superelevation to help guide vehicles through the curve. The road was constructed with a negative superelevation at the sharp curve that caused vehicles to move to the outside of the curve where several trees were located close to the road. As a result of several accidents, the media labeled the curve as “crash curve”. The small car impacted a tree laterally at the driver’s door and the tree intruded into the passenger compartment. The driver received severe internal injuries, and, although he was conscious and alert at the scene of the accident, his condition worsened in the hospital where he died the next day from his injuries.
The City of Oakland denied liability and denied the road was dangerous. They claimed the car lost control at a point past the severe curve and blamed the accident on a rain slick road and speed of the car over the speed limit. The City claimed there were more than adequate warnings signs in advance of the curve and that they were not responsible for the accident.
We represented the mother of the adult college student. He was not working and was not supporting his mother. We were able to settle the case at a mediation shortly before trial in 2010 for half a million dollars. After this accident, the City of Oakland added several safety features to make the road safer including more visible warning signs, a flashing light, speed feedback signs and a guardrail.