Injury In a Cross-Median Car Accident In California

In Higgins v. State of California (1997) 54 Cal. App. 4th 177, two individuals sued the State after sustaining injuries in a cross-median accident that allegedly could have been prevented had there been a median barrier. The trial and appellate courts found the State was entitled to the complete defense of design immunity under Government Code section 830.6 and that the exception to immunity for changed conditions did not apply. Specifically, the court found that the fact that traffic volume had more than doubled since the original plan did not constitute a changed condition. It explained, "Higgins next asserts increased traffic constitutes a changed circumstance mandating the placement of a median barrier and defeating design immunity. Krueper declared the traffic volume in the vicinity was two and one-half times greater in 1990 than it was in 1980. So what? Abstract numbers prove nothing. Smith declared the state standard for placement of median barriers was calculated with reference to traffic volume and width of the median, and the subject freeway plans, original and subsequent, conformed to the standard. Higgins's evidence did not controvert the state's evidence." ( Higgins v. State of California, supra, 54 Cal. App. 4th at p. 188.)