As the number of pedestrians hit by cars on San Diego streets increases, so, too, will the number of lawsuits that the city will have to fight over dangerous roadways and inadequate crosswalks.
According to claims submitted to the City's Risk Management Department, two new claims have been filed against the city over dangerous pedestrian conditions. The claims are a precursor to a lawsuit.
The first was filed by the family of a 13-year-old boy who was critically injured while at the intersection of 32nd Street and Ocean View Boulevard in Logan Heights in September 2017. The boy’s guardians filed a claim to the city on December 12, 2017.
According to San Diego police, the boy is still listed in critical condition nearly six months after the accident.
In a separate pedestrian and auto collision, Ruben Abagyan and his wife Margarita have filed a claim against the city for a dangerous condition on La Jolla Shores Drive. Abagyan, a pharmaceutical researcher at UC San Diego, was walking at the intersection of La Jolla Shores Drive and Downwind Way when he was struck by a car in October 12. Abagyan was listed in serious condition and, according to a summary of the claim, suffered a traumatic brain injury.
A spokesperson for San Diego Police Department says the driver was believed to be at fault. The intersection is known to be unsafe for pedestrians.
In December 2013, according to a message from former councilmember Sherri Lightner's staff posted online, traffic engineers studied the intersection after complaints were made. Later, the city installed pedestrian warning signs and painted legends on the asphalt to warn drivers. But according to the staffer, the city was reluctant to add a lighted crosswalk because of the presence of a pedestrian bridge.
"Nevertheless, Traffic Engineering can evaluate for the addition of a lighted crosswalk, but it would be hard to justify installing a high-level pedestrian warning device such as in-road flashers when there is a pedestrian bridge adjacent to the crosswalk."
The bridge, however, is not a direct route for many UC San Diego employees who work in nearby buildings.
In 2015 mayor Kevin Faulconer supported the adoption of the Vision Zero policy, which aims to end pedestrian deaths. Despite the support, pedestrian injuries and deaths in San Diego occur more frequently than in other large cities.
According to Kathleen Ferrier, spokesperson for Vision Zero Network, a national group dedicated to ending pedestrian fatalities and injuries, “San Diego has one of the highest rates of injury and death for pedestrians in the country, in terms of percentage of traffic deaths attributed to pedestrians. It reaches almost 50 percent, so that in and of itself is reason for alarm."
UPDATE 2/23, 1:15 p.m.
After publication it was learned that the claim has been denied and the family is suing.