Conditions of Public Roads – A look at the Case Law


As discussed in my first post, poor road conditions can have a much greater impact on the motorcycle rider, as opposed to the driver of a car or a truck.  Today, we look at some case that dealt with the issue of public roads, and the negligent design of such roads. In other words, the design of the road was negligent, it was not reasonably safe. The general rule is that the State has a duty to maintain the public roads to be reasonably safe for travel.

Case # 1: Zamarripa v. City of Coachella, 193 Cal. Rptr. 358 (Cal. App. 1983) – the city of Coachella was found to be negligent for allowing a wall to obstruct the view at an intersection.  The court ruled that this wall created or permitted a dangerous condition.

Case #2 Levine v. City of Los Angeles, 137 Cal. Rptr. 512 (Cal. App. 1977) – here a motorcycle rider was was involved in an accident after the road abruptly narrowed. The Court found the road was negligently designed and held the government liable.


These cases stand for the principle that the government has a responsibility to keep the roads safe for travel, and one aspect of that is appropriately designing safe roads in the first place.

Author: Michael D. Rehm

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