Market Overview

Two San Diego Attorneys Settle Auto Accident Case Involving Optical Illusion, and County of San Diego Makes Significant Safety Improvements to the Road


Two San Diego Attorneys Settle Auto Accident Case Involving Optical Illusion, and County of San Diego Makes Significant Safety Improvements to the Road

Attorneys Richard Huver and Karin Wick represented a Plaintiff who was seriously injured when the car he was riding in plunged off an 8 foot embankment. The Plaintiffs showed evidence at mediation of an optical illusion, caused by the County of San Diego's re-alignment of the road from 1992. Drivers at night perceived the road continued straight, when it veered left to form a T-intersection. At mediation, the County of San Diego agreed to a seven-figure settlement, and came through on its promise to significantly improve road safety at the scene of the accident.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) February 23, 2011

Richard A. Huver and Karin H. Wick, two respected San Diego-based personal injury attorneys, recently settled a lawsuit against the County of San Diego involving a road whose alignment created an optical illusion. As part of a $1.6 million settlement, the County of San Diego promised to review the roadway to determine whether additional safety improvements were needed. The County made good on its promise, performing extensive road work to warn of the hazard, and to keep motorists approaching the intersection from driving off an embankment.

In the case of Gunderson v. County of San Diego, the Plaintiff was being driven by a friend on Mussey Grade Road at 10:30pm. Mussey Grade Road is located in Ramona, and had originally been constructed to continue straight, intersecting with State Route 67. However, the road was re-aligned in 1992 to create a left-hand curve. As plaintiff's friend approached State Route 67, she thought the roadway continued straight and plunged over an 8-foot embankment into a ditch below. The Plaintiff, who was a passenger in the vehicle, suffered substantial injuries.

Attorneys for the Plaintiff argued that the modifications made to Mussey Grade Road actually created an optical illusion. Drivers approaching the curve at night see a traffic signal, flashing yellow lights, as well as headlights in the distance, giving the impression that the road continues straight. "For someone unfamiliar with this roadway, the traffic signal and flashing yellow lights were like beacons in the darkness drawing the driver's attention," Huver said. "The fact that the curve began in a dark area with no street lights, combined with the illusion of signal lights and traffic ahead, created one of the most dangerous curves in San Diego County."

At mediation, attorneys for the County of San Diego argued that driver error led to the crash, and that she was not paying attention to the left turn in the road. However, Plaintiffs presented evidence of a Traffic Advisory Committee report in 2003 that noted a "pattern of collisions" at the same location, all at night. While the County had performed previous roadwork at the accident scene, there had been 6 collisions over a 7 year period before the Gunderson accident.

The Plaintiff in the case suffered a blowout fracture of his back. He required fusion surgery, and suffers from constant back pain and other permanent medical issues. Through the work of Thomas Sharkey, a mediator for Judicate West, both sides were able to reach a $1.6 million settlement.

In an interesting twist, Mr. Huver and Ms. Wick proposed (and the County agreed) to submit a Traffic Engineering Service Request to have engineers determine whether additional improvements for traffic safety were needed. In late January of 2011, workers for the County came out and did an extraordinary job of improving the signage, including installation of an "Advance Curve Ahead" warning sign and a large "Sharp Curve and Stop Ahead" sign. In addition, engineers installed a flashing yellow beacon to warn drivers of the impending curve, and even erected a fence to eliminate the optical illusion that the road continued straight ahead.

"We are particularly pleased that the County did the right thing, so similar accidents are prevented in the future," said Ms. Wick. "The fact that the County followed through on their commitments, made during our settlement discussions, will go a long way towards improving driver safety at the Mussey Grade Road intersection."

The case was Douglas Gunderson v. County of San Diego (San Diego Superior Court, Case No. 37-2009-00064064-CU-PA-EC).

About the Huver Law Firm

The Huver Law Firm has been representing injured parties in a variety of personal injury matters, including vehicle accidents, burn injuries, and wrongful death. The firm also speaks for victims of nursing home and elder abuse, and policyholders with claims against their insurance company. The firm was founded by Richard A. Huver, who has received many awards for his professionalism and community service. More information on the Huver Law Firm is online at

About The Law Offices of Karin H. Wick

Karin Wick has devoted her entire legal career to representing injured parties in personal injury matters such as vehicle accidents and premises liability. She is a former Director of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, and a recipient of two President's awards recognizing her excellence in the legal arena.


For the original version on PRWeb visit:

View Comments and Join the Discussion!