The Colorado Court of Appeals heard a case in September 2016 to determine if the defendant, the City, and County of Denver will have their immunity waived in a motorcycle accident case. Doreen Heyboer was a passenger on a motorcycle when a car abruptly made a left-hand turn in front of them. The motorcycle was unable to brake in time and collided with the car. Heyboer was thrown from the motorcycle and suffered permanent brain injuries. The city is entitled to immunity unless the court determines that the deteriorated stretch of roadway was an unreasonable risk to public safety. The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (GCIA) would require that such dangerous conditions existed. Plaintiff Sean Dennis is attempting to bring a negligence and premises liability case against the city. At a prior hearing, the city acknowledged the road was somewhat deteriorated where the accident occurred, yet denied that it was such to pose an unreasonable risk.
The court had heard testimony from the defendant's witnesses. Stephanie Linkus, the responding officer, did not think that the condition of the road was a cause for the accident. Guy Barbera, an engineering expert, felt the road's condition was in a state where it did not interfere with braking and added that the collision would have happened regardless of the condition of the surface. The city further expressed that no cause for unreasonable risk could be determined from the evidence. Additionally, the city opined that it was the car involved in the collision that truly caused the accident.
There were several key facts in evidence that had significant influence in the decision of the court as follows:
- The city acknowledged that the roadway surface was in poor condition, and equally as important, that it was aware of the condition of the road at that time.
- In light of the road condition, the defendant was unable to show that repairs were underway or had been performed. The law states that the condition is to be maintained “in a generally similar condition as when it was initially constructed”.
- The City Engineer's acknowledgment that the road's condition was generally poor; however, “not dangerous enough to fix”; photographic evidence from the scene showed the surface was uneven and deteriorated.
- The Plaintiff presented evidence sufficient to affirm that the road was not in a “state of repair or efficiency” similar to when originally constructed, which establishes an unreasonable risk to public safety.
At The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, we assist victims of injury and their families obtain necessary compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. With so much at stake, you owe it to yourself to retain the services of a truly skilled litigator, who knows how to negotiate and proceed to trial when necessary. The first step is to contact our office for a complimentary consultation.