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Chico residents may not have to deal with snow removal issues, but we can understand the question at hand.

Sometimes, car accidents are inconvenient. When they are devastating to families because someone is killed or severely injured, recovery takes on a completely different perspective. Life-altering ramifications can lead to a need for someone or some business to be held accountable. Insurance companies might settle, but sometimes, it takes courtroom presentation of the facts to a jury for accident liability to be determined.

This is what’s happening in another state. Reports are a jury is presently deliberating whether or not the death of a woman killed in a car crash was caused by poor local road design compounded by improper snow removal. Chico residents may not have to deal with snow removal issues, but we can understand the question at hand. Should the state be held liable for this woman’s death because of its responsibility to keep the roads safe?

The accident reportedly happened in 2011. The lawsuit claims state transportation officials allowed snow to pile up and form a ramp over a guardrail. The 40-year-old’s car was launched up and off an overpass when she attempted to access the interstate highway. Her family contends she found herself unable to alter the course of her vehicle when she was trying to merge into traffic by way of an unreasonably short lane.

The plaintiffs’ counsel stated authorities allegedly had three days of good weather during which the road could have been cleared, and lack of planning contributed to the wreck. The state countered the accident would have been avoided had the victim applied her brakes. They also countered that she was on her phone and was distracted. Records reportedly contradict that assertion.

The complaint seeks up to $1.2 million in lost earning capacity. Reports are the family is concerned that the state be held liable for not keeping the road safe, a position backed up by the fact that even if the jury decides in their favor, that state has limits set by law for lawsuits against public entities.

Even though the jury hasn’t decided the matter yet, the case illustrates there is value to families when at-fault parties must answer for their actions. Skillful courtroom presentations are just one tool that can help accomplish this for them.

Source: Associated Press, “Jury Considering Whether Piled-up Snow Caused Fatal Crash,” Lindsay Whitehurst, April. 22, 2015


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