Friday, January 27, 2006

Dead Man's Curve

The next issue of ATLA's magazine Trial (or, as they seem to insist, TRIAL) is transportation-oriented.  One article, written by Gary Pillersdorf, provides an interesting overview of issues in cases where cars run off the road.  An excerpt:

Studies show that 20 percent of all fatal accidents involve single automobiles running off the road.1 It is easy to write these cases off as examples of driver error, but in many instances, the government agency that designs and maintains the roads must share or shoulder the blame.

These cases are difficult. Not every off-road crash leads to government liability, and investigating a road’s engineering and accident history can be expensive. A connective-tissue case, for example, may not warrant the time and expense these cases require. The defendants’ recurring theme is driver error, and these cases rarely settle.

After an interesting anecdote about the road that inspired the Jan & Dean song "Dead Man's Curve," the piece addresses governmental immunity and various factual theories -- defective guardrails, failure to warn, and defective banking.

I unfortunately don't get to governmental immunity in my Torts class, but I could imagine a case like this being a nice quiz or exam question, or at least a good hypothetical for discussion.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tortsprof/2006/01/dead_mans_curve.html

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