Car Accident Caused by Looking Directly Into the Sun

Car Accidents Caused by Sun Glare in California: In Erfurt v. State of California (1983) 141 Cal. App. 3d 837, the plaintiff was driving on a freeway when she reached the crest of an uphill climb and was suddenly looking directly into the sun. (Id. at p. 840.) Ahead, (1) the three-lane freeway split into a "Y," (2) a concrete pillar that supported an overcrossing was in the center of the "Y," and (3) a guardrail formed a "V" around that pillar. (Id. at p. 841.) As a result of her difficulty in seeing, the plaintiff was unable to stay in her lane and struck the guardrail in front of the pillar. The plaintiff sued the state and a jury determined the state was 60 percent responsible for the accident and the plaintiff was 40 percent responsible. (Erfurt, at p. 840.) On appeal, the Fourth Appellate District identified the dangerous condition as "the effect of blinding sunlight combined with improper channelization and the lack of devices to properly guide and warn a driver around an object in the middle of a freeway." (Erfurt v. State of California, supra, 141 Cal. App. 3d at p. 846.) As a result of the hill just before the "Y," a driver could be in the shade one moment and looking up the incline directly into the sun the next. For about 20 days a year and about 15 to 25 minutes during those days, the sun was in a position to affect driver vision. (Erfurt, at p. 842.) With respect to the issue of constructive notice of the dangerous condition, the appellate court stated: "While the particular dangerous condition in this case existed only 20 some days of the year, it had been in existence for over 10 years, since the construction of the highway in 1966. Under such circumstances the jury could reasonably find constructive notice of the dangerous condition. 'It is well settled that constructive notice can be shown by the long continued existence of the dangerous or defective condition, and it is a question of fact for the jury to determine whether the condition complained of has existed for a sufficient time to give the public agency constructive notice. '" (Erfurt v. State of California, supra, at pp. 844-845.)