$19.75 Million Settlement against LA County for Dangerous Road Condition

DBAS Law Secures $19.75 Million Settlement with Los Angeles County for Man Paralyzed by Car Crash in Dangerous Intersection

The DBAS Law’s litigation team obtained nearly $20 million on behalf of a 22-year-old man who suffered a permanent spinal cord injury following a car crash in Agoura Hills. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors finalized its approval of a $19.75 million settlement in early August 2022.

On September 16, 2018, the plaintiff was riding as a passenger in his friend’s Audi when the driver lost control at Mulholland Highway and Waring Drive. While taking a wide turn, the driver swerved off the asphalt road into an open dirt area and burst through a chain-link fence. The car landed in Triunfo Creek, upside down on the passenger side, where Matamoros was seated. The impact broke his neck, causing permanent paralysis.

Lead plaintiff attorney Daniel Balaban told the Daily Journal, “this settlement will help provide the nursing services, medical care, and mobility equipment he needs to pursue the most productive life possible.”

Mulholland Highway is well-known as a motor enthusiast road, and it’s common to see motorists traveling over the speed limit on this road. There is a straightaway, then a steep curve to the left at the crash scene.

That curve bends through the intersection of Mulholland Highway and Waring just before entering a 2-lane bridge over the creek bed. Maintenance records show dozens of collisions over decades at this exact location. “Either through prior traffic collision or maintenance records, which is what made the case, we were able to show that the guardrail that was there was constantly being hammered and fixed. That occurred well over a decade at least a dozen times,” Balaban said.

The plaintiff sued the county for failing to follow clear standards in designing and implementing safe guardrails to protect vehicles on bridges and local roads. The litigation revealed no protection to prevent cars from dropping off the 10-foot-high wall. The chain-link fence was not a sufficient barrier. It required a metal beam guardrail which would have prevented the Audi from plunging into the riverbed.

“Los Angeles County had decades to fix this dangerous condition, one that stole this young man’s future in a split second,” said Balaban. “Now the county has the opportunity to fix the design to make sure this never happens to another person.”

The plaintiff’s legal team included DBAS Law’s trial attorneys Daniel Balaban, Andy Spielberger, Kahren Harutyunyan, and Vanessa Loftus-Brewer.