Court Reverses Grant of Immunity to City in Accident Case

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Ohio published an opinion upholding the reversal of a lower circuit court’s decision to dismiss a plaintiff’s claim against the city when he was involved in a car accident with another driver, who had run through a stop sign that was later determined not to be sufficiently visible. The lower court determined that the city was immune from liability for the plaintiff’s injuries because it was a municipal body that was immune under state law. The state supreme court found that an exception to municipal immunity should apply to the case, further ruling that the plaintiff’s claim against the city for allegedly failing to maintain the roadway in a safe condition should be remanded to the circuit court to proceed toward trial if a settlement was not reached.

Plaintiff Is Struck While Driving Through an Intersection

The plaintiff in the case is an Ohio man who alleged that in May 2011, he was involved in an accident when another driver failed to yield the right of way at an intersection and crashed into the plaintiff. An investigation after the accident determined the stop sign that signaled the other driver to stop and yield at the intersection was obstructed by tree branches and was not sufficiently visible to alert approaching drivers. After the crash, the plaintiff pursued a personal injury claim against the other driver and the city where the crash occurred, alleging that the negligent failure to trim the trees around the stop sign created liability for the plaintiff’s injuries.

The Circuit Court Finds that the City Is Protected by Municipal Immunity

The plaintiff’s claim against the other driver was settled with terms that have not been disclosed. However, the plaintiff’s claim against the city was rejected by the circuit court judge, who ruled that the city could not be sued for its negligent failure to maintain a public road under the circumstances present in this case. The initial ruling relied on a portion of the traffic code stating that a municipal subdivision is not liable for a failure to adequately maintain a traffic control device on a public road, unless the device was one that was mandatory under the traffic code. Finding that the traffic code used the word “should” instead of “must” or “shall,” the court determined that a stop sign was not mandatory at the intersection where the accident occurred, and the city therefore could not be sued.

Court of Appeals and State Supreme Court Disagree with the Circuit Court’s Application of the Law

The plaintiff appealed the circuit court ruling to the Ohio Court of Appeals, which reversed the circuit court in a ruling that was then affirmed by the state high court. The appellate courts found that if there are inconsistencies between the traffic code and the revised state code, the revised code defines the law. Unlike the traffic code provision cited by the circuit court judge, the revised code stated that a stop sign at the intersection where the accident occurred was mandatory, and the city was not immune from suit.

Making Claims Against Municipalities in South Florida

Title 45 Chapter 768 Section 28 of Florida Statutes Annotated contains Florida’s tort liability waiver as it applies to municipalities and political subdivisions. The state maintains immunity for a government entity’s negligence unless an exception to immunity applies. Florida state laws can appear contradictory at times and be difficult to understand. Anyone injured as a result of a government entity’s negligence should consult with a dedicated South Florida personal injury attorney to discuss their case.

South Florida Accident Lawyers You Can Trust

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a South Florida auto collision or other accident, you may be able to pursue a claim against one or more parties for monetary compensation. Employees of municipalities, as well as a municipality itself, may be responsible for damages if certain requirements are met. The skilled South Florida car accident attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank will take the care that your case deserves. Our attorneys take clients throughout South Florida in all types of negligence and injury cases. Call our office at 877-448-8585 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Appellate Court Reverses Lower Court’s Denial of Plaintiff’s Request to Extend Notice Deadline, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 19, 2017.

Plaintiff in Defective Tire Wrongful Death Case Will Not Have Evidence Excluded for Spoliation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 4, 2017.

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