Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion discussing whether a private company that had contracted with a city to maintain back-up battery power for traffic lights could be held liable for an accident that occurred during a power outage. The case presents interesting issues that are relevant for all Maryland car accident victims who are considering filing a claim for damages against the parties they believe to be responsible for the accident that caused their injuries.
The Facts of the Case
Back in 2004, the City of Glendale installed back-up battery packs in all of the city’s traffic lights so that when there was a power outage, the lights would continue to be operational. A few years later, the city contracted with the defendant, a private company, to perform all necessary maintenance on the back-up battery system.
In 2011, the traffic light at one specific intersection began showing “low voltage” indicators. For whatever reason, the battery packs were not holding a charge. In August of that year, new battery packs were installed, but no batteries were placed in the units.
In the following month, the plaintiff was a passenger in a car that entered the intersection during a power outage. At the time, the traffic light was not lit, and as the vehicle in which the plaintiff was riding entered the intersection, it was struck by another car. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that its negligence resulted in her injuries. In a pre-trial motion, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim, finding that the defendant did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care to prevent injuries. The plaintiff appealed.
On Appeal, the Case is Reversed
On appeal, the plaintiff renewed her argument that the defendant owed her a duty of care. The court agreed with the plaintiff that there was a duty owed to her. The court considered several factors, including whether the type of injury the plaintiff sustained was foreseeable by the defendant, the connection between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s injury, and whether the risk of future harm was considerable. After weighing all of the factors, the court concluded that they all weighed in favor of finding a duty owed to the plaintiff. As a result, the plaintiff’s case will be permitted to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.
Have You Been a Victim of a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing victims across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We are knowledgeable in all types of personal injury cases, and we put our knowledge and experience behind each of our clients. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Plaintiff’s Car Accident Case Nearly Dismissed for Failure to Name Proper Party, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 10, 2017.
Fireman’s Rule Prevents On-Duty Police Officer from Recovering Compensation After Car Accident, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 24, 2017.