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City of San Diego Settles for $24 Million with Man Paralyzed in Bicycle Accident

City of San Diego Settles for $24 Million with Man Paralyzed in Bicycle Accident

San Diego’s City Council has unanimously approved a $23.75 million payout to Juan Carlos Vinolo, a bicyclist who was paralyzed seven years ago when a car driven by an intoxicated driver collided with him on a blind turn. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, the car’s driver was convicted of driving under the influence of methamphetamine and is serving a 19-year prison sentence.

Dangerous Roadway

However, Vinolo filed a personal injury lawsuit in 2016, saying that the city was partly to blame for his life-changing bicycle accident. His lawsuit stated that the blind corners on the mostly oval-shaped, one-way road on Fiesta Island, a large peninsular park inside Mission Bay, were made even more hazardous by overgrown bushes and high berms. The lawsuit alleges city officials knew that area was problematic and dangerous but never addressed the safety issues.

The lawsuit says that “the city created, fostered and maintained Fiesta Island to exponentially increase the risk of serious injury to cyclists that use the Fiesta Island Road.” The complaint also points to evidence that the city was negligent by recalling a news conference one week after the crash that catastrophically Vinolo where the city’s then-Mayor talked about upgrades to the road, including trimming the bushes and installing new signs. In 2019, a civil jury in state Superior Court assigned 27% of the liability for the crash to the city and 73% to the car’s driver.

Catastrophic Injuries

The August 2014 crash left Vinolo with a dislocated left clavicle, broken ribs, and a severed spine that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Court documents state he was in intensive care for over a month and spent 70 days in a rehab facility after being released from the hospital.

Vinolo also lost one kidney and was on dialysis for weeks while the other kidney recovered. In addition, he suffered damage to his liver, lungs, and spleen, and according to medical professionals, he will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Comparative Negligence

This case is an example of how seriously injured victims may be able to collect monetary damages from more than one party whose negligence caused or contributed to the accident. In this case, even though a jury found that the car’s intoxicated driver was largely to blame for the accident, they also assigned 27% of the liability to the city for dangerous roadway design and maintenance.

Even though the driver was tried and convicted for DUI, the victim could still file a personal injury lawsuit against the city to seek further, much-needed compensation given the lifelong expenses he will incur for ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, and nursing care. This is why injured victims and families must contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer at the earliest so your lawyer can analyze all possible options and explore all avenues of compensation before the statute of limitations – or the deadline to file the lawsuit – runs out.



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California Personal Injury Blog