Monday, May 18, 2009

Families Sue City of Newport for Broken Neck and Drowning

Two local families have recently sued the city of Newport for the March 2008 drowning of 17 year old Victor Want and an August 2008 incident in which a young man dived into a wave and broke his neck.  Wang’s family seeks $20 million from the city, claiming that “there were no flags posted or visible showing that there was high surf or high wind conditions.”  The second young man’s claim seeks $500,000 claiming that an unspecified “dangerous condition of public property” and a “failure to warn” were the cause of his neck injury.


California Government Code § 831.2 states that public entities are not liable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions of unimproved public property.  However, § 835 of the Code states that a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of its property if it was in a dangerous condition and the public entity did not take measures to protect against a known condition.  Stephen Jamieson, partner with the Playa del Rey, California law firm, Solomon, Saltsman & Jamieson, and co-host of the weekly televised talk show, Legal Help Live, says cases where the government is a defendant present unique issues of “notice” and an opportunity to fix a known problem, as well as evaluating if governmental immunities are applicable.  Cases like this present special challenges to lawyers so victims should always assess what area of expertise is possessed by counsel they are considering to retain.


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