A California family has received a $2.6 million settlement in a wrongful death case involving the tragic death of a 7-year-old girl, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In early evening hours during the spring of 2012, 7-year-old Angelica Arreola left her Ritter Elementary School after-school program after getting an award for her improvements in reading and math. The little girl was walking with her younger sister and parents on a marked school crosswalk when a vehicle sped through the intersection and struck the family, killing her father and leaving Angelica paralyzed with critical injuries. The driver fled the scene of the accident and still has yet to be identified or charged in the case. In late 2016, the 7-year-old girl succumbed to her injuries from the accident.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors recently authorized the Department of Public Works to issue a $2.6-million payout to the family to settle a civil lawsuit brought by her mother and younger sister over negligence, emotional distress and wrongful death. A separate settlement of $600,000 in the same case was approved by the Los Angeles Unified School District last year.
According to the lawsuit filing, county employees had known that this particular crosswalk, which is situated at the intersection of Watts Avenue and North Santa Ana Boulevard, was dangerous and needed to be addressed. Despite this information, school officials still recommended the intersection as a path on a map that suggested pedestrian routes to the school. Drivers turning from nearby South Alameda Street, a road that is meant for traffic moving at high speeds, were often unaware of the school nearby and the need to slow down in the area. The street also lacked speed bumps and stop signs, and a driver’s view of the crosswalk and school signs were obstructed by foliage and trees. An amended complaint filed in this case also noted that the crosswalk had been the subject of concern at community and school board meetings in the years leading up to the incident.
Previously, the Department of Public Works completed a traffic study in that area that concluded that the county should install 25-mph speed limit signs and an all-way stop control. The department also recommended upgraded school warning signs for the intersection to make them easier for drivers to see. The upgrades and repairs raised by the study were supposed to be done by the end of January 2012 but were never set in motion until after the fatal accident that took the lives of Angelica and her father.
County officials have declined to comment on this case, but in a letter and case summary sent to the Board of Supervisors in July, county attorneys recommended the settlement because of the uncertainties and risks involved in a trial and the potential liability exposure a trial would bring.
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