A repair crew was on site on South Mason Road in Katy, Texas, fixing a warning light that was supposed to be flashing and warning drivers to slow down for a crosswalk today, Friday, September 29, 2023. This would normally have been a good thing except they were not there fixing it the day before when a 14-year-old boy lost his life while crossing in the crosswalk on his bicycle when a car slammed into him. Logan Dark was the victim. The accident took place near Betty Sue Creek Elementary School in Cinco Ranch.
Is a Driver Relieved of His Obligation to Yield if the Crosswalk Lights Are Not Flashing?
No. Under Texas law, all drivers have a duty to keep a proper lookout and to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. In addition, the Vulnerable Road User Ordinance sets certain obligations on drivers when approaching and passing pedestrians and cyclists moving along the roadway or on the adjacent sidewalk. Failure to yield the right of way when required is negligence.
Is the City Responsible for an Accident When Lights are Malfunctioning at a Crosswalk?
Yes and No. In the State of Texas, Cities are protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity to a certain extent. When it comes to traffic signals, the decision to put one up or not put one up in a specific area is completely at the discretion of the city government. If they choose to not put a traffic control device up, you cannot sue the city for the absence of a traffic control device.
However, if the government chooses to put one up, such as a flashing light at a crosswalk, then they have a duty to maintain it. This means that when a traffic control device they put up is not functioning properly, the question becomes “were they notified about the problem, and, if so, did they act reasonably in repairing the defect?” So for example, if they get a call about a defect, they dispatch a repair crew, but a wreck happens before the crew arrives, they would likely not be liable because they took reasonable steps upon receiving notice. However, if they received the call on Friday and decided not to call a repair crew until Monday but the accident happened over the weekend, then they would be likely to be found liable.
Determining who is liable for an auto-bicycle accident in Texas can be difficult. It is wise to consult a bicycle accident attorney to discuss your options. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., Injury & Accident Lawyers has been helping accident victims recover in Texas since 1979. We offer a free consultation and we charge you no attorney fees or litigation expenses unless we make a recovery for you.