The city of Hanford recently agreed to a $15 million settlement in the traumatic brain injury auto accident case of 14-year-old Christopher Chan, according to the Hanford Sentinel. Christopher suffered the horrendous injury as the result of a bicycle vs. automobile accident May 31, 2005 at the Hanford street intersection of 11th Avenue and Pepper Drive.
Jupiter Chan, Christopher’s father, represented by Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys had sued the city alleging that the municipality knew the street intersection was dangerous, agreed to fix it the dangerous condition and then did not act to correct the problem. The intersection posed a hazard to school children who cross the intersection twice daily on their way to and from school. As of last week, the Hanford has still taken no visible action to make the intersection safe for school children.
The city of Hanford agreed to our settlement terms a week before the case was set to begin a jury trial. The settlement provided up front cash to pay past medical and care expenses, equipment and home modifications Christopher needs now, attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses. The agreement also calls for the reminder of the money to be paid periodically into a trust for Christopher, administered by court appointed conservators, for the rest of Christopher’s life to cover the 24/7/365 care he needs for the rest of his life.
This case should serve as a warning to other municipalities and governmental agencies. As our trial attorney Brian Chase said in press interviews, this is a tragedy that should have been prevented. A traumatic brain injury has wiped out Christopher’s future. This would not have happened had Hanford’s elected officials attended to the dangerous conditions at the intersection, which caused our client’s severe injuries.
Who is responsible for a dangerous intersection accident? California’s Government Code section 835 clearly states a public entity is liable for injuries caused by the condition of a public property when the injured person proves that there was a dangerous condition on the property at the time of the injury; the injury was caused by that dangerous condition; and the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury of the kind that occurred.
It is our hope that the City officials of Hanford and other governmental agencies responsible for California roadways see this case as a wake-up call. Sure it would have cost thousands of dollars to make this intersection safe. Whatever amount it would have cost, it was a lot less expensive than the millions it cost the city to settle this case and the quality of life it cost Christopher and his family.