State Appellate Court Rules in Favor of Plaintiff in Auto-Pedestrian Accident Case

The California Court of Appeals recently released a decision reversing a lower court’s ruling in favor of the defendant in a premises liability lawsuit filed after the plaintiff was hit by a car while crossing the street from an overflow parking lot to the defendant’s establishment. The trial court had ruled that the defendant could not be held responsible for the man’s injuries because the accident occurred on a public street that the defendant did not own or control. The appellate court found that the defendant may be held accountable for negligence based on their ownership of the overflow parking lot and a duty to provide reasonable care. Based on the court of appeals’ opinion, the plaintiff may receive damages from his claim by a trial or if a settlement is reached.

The Plaintiff is Injured Crossing from the Overflow Parking Lot to the Church

The plaintiff in the case of Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church was a church member who intended to attend a church event in Sacramento, California on an evening in November of 2010. According to the facts discussed in the opinion, when the plaintiff arrived to the church the primary parking lot was full. The plaintiff was instead told to park in an overflow lot, which was located directly across a five-lane road from the church and had parking attendants on duty.

After parking his car, the plaintiff did not receive instructions from the parking attendants regarding how to cross the street and there was no crosswalk at the nearest intersection so he attempted to cross directly in front of the church, along with several other churchgoers. As the small group was crossing the street, a vehicle approached on the roadway and the parishioners began running, however, the plaintiff couldn’t avoid being struck by the vehicle.

The Trial Court’s Rationale for Denying the Plaintiff’s Negligence Claim

Based on the injuries he suffered, the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit alleging that the defendant created a dangerous condition and failed to protect against a foreseeable risk of harm by maintaining the overflow parking lot across a busy street. Furthermore, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant failed to adequately train or supervise the parking lot attendants to prevent his injuries. Before a trial was held on the matter, the trial court dismissed the case on the defendant’s motion, ruling that there could not be a legal duty for the defendant to assist the plaintiff in crossing a public street that was not under their ownership or control.

On appeal, the high court disagreed with the reasoning of the trial court, ruling that the defendant did have a legal duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid exposing the plaintiff to an unreasonable risk of harm, and that violation of the duty could justify an award of damages. The court distinguished the case from other cases where landowners did not have a duty based on the defendant’s ownership and control of the overflow parking lot as well as the church itself. The court found that the defendant was not required to provide overflow parking, but that by providing the lot and directing parishioners to use it, a duty arose. Based on this analysis, the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim was reversed and the case will proceed toward a settlement or trial.

Have You Been Injured on Another’s Property?

Property owners in South Florida have a legal duty to provide ordinary care to prevent visitors and invitees from an unreasonable risk of harm. If an owner or employee has allowed a dangerous condition on their property or failed to adequately warn the public of such a danger and you’ve been injured as a result, the property owner may be responsible for economic and noneconomic damages you have suffered. If you or a loved one has been injured, the Miami premises liability lawyers with Friedman, Rodman & Frank can help you seek fair compensation for your claim.  At Friedman, Rodman & Frank, we accept negligence cases in the Miami area and throughout South Florida. Contact us and schedule a no obligation consultation and case review. Call toll-free at 877-448-8585 or contact us online. Se habla Español / Nou Parlé Creole.

More Blog Posts:

Court Affirms Judgment for Defendant in Case Filed after Fatal Skateboarding Accident, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 30, 2016.

State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Medical Malpractice Plaintiff’s Attempt to Extend Statute of Limitations, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 15, 2016.

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