A Florida man who was injured in a motor vehicle accident successfully appealed a final summary judgment motion entered by a lower court in favor of the City of Coral Gables. The case stemmed from injuries that the plaintiff sustained when his motorcycle collided with an SUV at an intersection. The plaintiff testified that he was traveling northbound when he noticed the SUV approaching in the southbound lane. The SUV driver was making a left turn when the plaintiff collided with the other driver’s SUV. The plaintiff explained that he could not stop in time to avoid the collision. The driver of the SUV claimed that recently planted palm trees with wooden supports at the end of the median obstructed his view of the motorcyclist.
The motorcyclist sued the City alleging, among other issues, that the City created a dangerous condition by negligently designing the intersection and planting the palm trees. The plaintiff argued that the City was liable because the trees and their wooden supports obstructed a driver’s view of oncoming traffic. The City countered that it should not be liable because the placement and wooden supports were a planning decision and not an operational decision; therefore, protected by governmental immunity.
Governmental entities cannot face liability for many of the day-to-day activities carried out by government employees. However, certain exceptions allow individuals to file a tort action against a Florida government agency. For governmental tort liability, the injury victim must be able to establish that the government entity owed them a statutory duty of care. The government agency will be liable only to the same extent that a private person would be under similar circumstances. Finally, certain discretionary functions are immune to lawsuits.