Government Liability

When someone is killed on public property, whether because of the negligence of a government or public employee or a dangerous condition on the property, the government can be liable for wrongful death damages.

This is true whether the dangerous condition or negligent conduct is traced to a state employee, a city, a county, a school district, water district or hospital board, or other public entity.

Suing A California City, County Or The State For A Wrongful Death

The California wrongful death law specialists at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger have concluded more than 500 cases in the past 50 years against public entities, including:

  • The city and county of San Francisco
  • San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Marin County, Napa County, Contra Costa County, Alameda County and Sonoma County
  • The Golden Gate Bridge Transit District
  • The state of California
  • SamTrans transit system
  • Caltrans
  • The San Francisco Water Department
  • The California Highway Patrol
  • The San Francisco Sheriff's Department
  • The U.S. Postal Service
  • The United States government

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one from a severe injury or accident in California, Walkup Melodia can help you. Call us at 415-906-3764 or contact the Walkup firm online to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.

California Fatal Roadway Defect Lawyers

Our California public entity wrongful death specialists have expertise in the preparation and trial of cases involving dangerous roadways.

In California, all state highways are owned and maintained by the California Department of Transportation, referred to as Caltrans.

Lawsuits for wrongful death alleging dangerous conditions of public property are complicated and expensive — our highway design wrongful death team understands how to successfully prosecute such cases.

Our wrongful death dangerous roadway lawyers have handled cases involving highways that are unsafe because of:

  • Road resurfacing
  • Poorly designed bridge abutments, guardrails and median dividers
  • Negligently managed construction zones, including those that do not have proper or visible signage
  • Inadequate temporary lighting at road resurfacing or construction projects, rendering pedestrians, other vehicles and landmarks difficult or impossible to see
  • Bad road design, including lanes that are too narrow or turns that are improperly banked
  • Surface defects including potholes, loose gravel or other pavement hazards that cause vehicles to go out of control

Californians trust state highway maintenance engineers to make certain that our highways are safe. All California citizens and motorists are entitled to drive on public roadways that have been properly built and maintained. Where improper maintenance or design results in death, the law firm of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger is ready to step in and help.

Attorneys Handling Deadly Public Transportation Accidents

In addition to dangerous conditions on public property, the public entity wrongful death specialists at Walkup Melodia have extensive experience representing citizens who have been injured through the negligence of public transportation systems, including:

  • San Francisco Municipal Railway
  • SamTrans
  • Golden Gate Trans buses
  • Golden Gate Transit ferries
  • San Francisco Municipal Railway cable cars
  • Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
  • Caltrain

Northern California citizens are killed each year as a result of public transportation errors and negligence. Under California law, public transportation systems are known as "common carriers," which means they are required to operate with the highest degree of care possible to ensure the safety of their passengers.

When negligent and dangerous operation results in death, public entities are liable.

Additionally, public entities are required to maintain their vehicles in a manner that is safe and fit, consistent with the "highest degree of care" to avoid serious or fatal injury to their passengers. When a death results out of a common carrier's failure to live up to this degree of care, our attorneys can help.

Contact Our Attorneys Now

Call us today at 415-906-3764 or contact our skilled lawyers online. Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger handles government-related wrongful death cases throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara, Oakland, San Mateo, Sacramento and Vallejo.

California Public Transportation Death Lawsuit Case Studies

Unsafe Pedestrian Railing — $2 Million Settlement

Our government liability wrongful death lawyers recovered $2 million on behalf of the parents of a Bay Area child who fell through a defective pedestrian railing on the Golden Gate Bridge. As a result of the accident, substantial changes were made in the bridge to improve the safety of all pedestrians.

Woman Killed By Falling Tree Branch — $1 Million Settlement For Surviving Son And Grandchildren

Our wrongful death attorneys negotiated a settlement in the amount of $1 million against the city of Pacific Grove on behalf of the surviving heirs of a woman killed when a 30-foot length of a diseased Monterey pine tree fractured and fell, striking and killing her at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove. In the course of pretrial discovery, Walkup wrongful death attorneys were able to prove through percipient and expert witnesses that at least six pine trees, each more than 100 feet tall, had been tagged several years earlier for removal because of the very risk that resulted in this tragedy. The plaintiffs included the son and daughter of the deceased and three of her grandchildren. The son and grandchildren witnessed the death and accordingly had claims for both emotional distress and wrongful death. Under the terms of the settlement, the defense contributed funds in the form of cash and future structured payments.

Driver Collides With Fallen Tree On Highway — $800,000 Death Claim Settlement

Our wrongful death attorneys negotiated an $800,000 settlement after three days of trial in a dangerous condition of public property case against the state of California. The claim was brought on behalf of the surviving wife and two children of a 59-year-old man who crashed into a fallen tree on State Route 1 late at night. The plaintiffs claimed that the tree fell because it was infected with pine pitch chancre, a disease well-known to Caltrans maintenance personnel in southern San Mateo County. The tree fell such that the root ball remained elevated on a hillside, with the tree suspended above the roadway surface like a clothesline. The decedent, driving a van, was transporting commercial goods to Watsonville and never saw the tree before impact. The plaintiffs argued that the fallen tree constituted a dangerous condition of public property and that the state knew or should have known of the problem because it had previously cut down a number of Monterey pines with the same symptoms.