When riding his bike through Sherman Oaks on Valley Vista Boulevard in Los Angeles, Peter Godefroy lost control and hit a pothole. The accident threw him to the ground, leaving him with “broken bones and a severe traumatic brain injury.” As a result of the incident, he and his wife filed a lawsuit against the city, county, and the state of California, and now the city has agreed to pay $6.5 million to settle.
But what did Godefroy sue the city for? Well, according to his lawsuit, “the street he was bicycling on was so poorly maintained that it had created a concealed trap for bicyclists.” Because of the city government’s negligence in properly maintaining the streets, the lawsuit claims “Godefroy had suffered injuries so severe that he expected to have some permanent disability.”
In response to the city council’s 11 to 0 vote in favor of the $6.5 million settlement, Godefroy’s attorney, Spencer Lucas, issued the following statement:
“We are happy that the city has taken responsibility for the safety of the roadway at issue that caused Mr. Godefroy’s life-changing injury. We are proud of the bravery that Peter and his family have shown throughout this case and hope that this settlement can improve the quality of his life despite his ongoing injuries.”
This isn’t the first time the city of Los Angeles has been “sued over road conditions following gruesome crashes,” though. Earlier this year, the city approved another $4.5 million settlement to be paid to the family of Edgardo Gabat, “a 56-year-old man who was thrown from his bicycle and killed after hitting the uneven pavement in Eagle Rock.” In fact, over the last year, Los Angeles has paid out more than $15 million worth of legal judgment payments or lawsuit settlements related to bike accidents and dangerous road conditions.
So what does the city have to say for itself? After all, $15 million is a lot to pay out to settle legal disputes because bike riders keep getting injured by the city’s dangerous road conditions. Well, City Councilman Paul Krekorian, “who represents part of the San Fernando Valley,” said recently that “the city must ensure that bicyclists can ride safely in Los Angeles.” When questioned about the Godefroy case, he declined to comment on the matter, though he has asked “officials to investigate the current condition of bicycle lanes across the city and figure out how much time and money it would take to fix them.”