Florida Court Determines City May Be Liable for Accident Victim’s Injuries Based on Dangerous Intersection

In July, 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case discussing whether the defendant, the City of Coral Gables, was immune from liability based on governmental immunity. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence gave rise to a material fact that needed to be resolved by a jury. Thus, the court reversed the lower court’s decision granting summary judgment to the City.

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was driving north on Ponce de Leon Boulevard, approaching the intersection with Navarre Avenue. As the plaintiff, who was riding a motorcycle, approached the intersection, he noticed another driver slowly approaching the intersection in the opposite direction.

The other driver initiated a left turn without yielding the right of way, leaving the plaintiff with no time to react. The plaintiff crashed his motorcycle into the right front fender of the other vehicle. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result of the crash. The other driver stated that he could not see the plaintiff as he approached the intersection due to several palm trees that were in the center median.

The plaintiff filed a Florida personal injury claim against several defendants, including the City of Coral Gables (the “City”), as well as the other driver. However, this case only concerned the City. The plaintiff argued that the City negligently placed the trees in the intersection, which contributed to the accident. The City claimed that it enjoyed government immunity because it was unaware of the hazards presented by the trees in the median. The trial court sided with the City, granting summary judgment. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision. The court explained that the City’s evidence suggesting it did not know about the dangers of the intersection was not entirely accurate. At the motion for summary judgment, the City presented 13 police reports from accidents that occurred at the same intersection. The City claimed that none of those reports listed the palm trees as a potential cause of the crash. However, the plaintiff looked deeper into each of those cases. Specifically, the plaintiff reviewed the affidavits from the parties involved in the accident, finding that three of the parties involved in the accidents cited the trees as the cause of the crash. Taking this into account, the court determined that there was conflicting evidence regarding the City’s knowledge of the hazard presented by the trees. For that reason, the court determined that summary judgment was inappropriate in this case.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any Florida car accident, contact the dedicated South Florida car accident lawyers at Friedman Rodman & Frank. At our Coral Cables law firm, we skillfully represent injury victims and their families in a wide range of personal injury lawsuits, including Florida motorcycle accidents. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney today, call 877-448-8585.

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