A tragic case out of New Jersey, in re Matter of John Fiocco, Jr., deceased, highlights the responsibility of public entities to maintain a safe environment. In the wrongful death lawsuit the family of young college student alleges that the College of New Jersey was responsible and should be held accountable for the death of their son. The parents, Susan and John Fiocco allege that “lax security measures” at the campus allowed a stranger to enter their son’s dormitory and murder their son.
The college argued that it was protected from civil suit as the result of immunity laws that shield public and charitable institutions from liability unless the institution was either “grossly negligent” or allowed a “dangerous condition” to exist at the time of an accident. However, the court ruled that allegations that the college allowed open access to the dorm 16 hours a day and did not make sure that exterior doors leading into the dorm and the trash compactor room were locked, could be considered “grossly negligent” and/or a dangerous situation. As a result, the college could not hide behind immunity statutes to shield itself from civil liability.
Similarly in California, public entities may be held liable for creating dangerous conditions. If you have been injured as the result of a dangerous condition on public property or have lost a loved one, a Stockton injury lawyer can advise you of your rights and consult with you regarding your next steps.
Under California law, several different issues and laws may be considered in determining whether to file a wrongful death lawsuit or premise liability claim. For example, was the public entity aware of the dangerous condition? Even if the entity was not aware of a condition – should they have discovered the condition? Did the entity adequately inspect and maintain the property? In the event the entity was aware of a dangerous condition, did it take adequate steps to prevent foreseeable risks of harm?
In almost all personal injury situations, especially those including a wrongful death, a detailed investigation must be conducted and many questions asked concerning the actions any person – or entity- took or failed to take to prevent an accident or injury from occurring.
In the tragic New Jersey case, a judge has determined that the college’s failure to keep its dormitories locked and safe, may be considered “gross negligence” by a jury and as a result, it is possible the college will be found liable and be responsible to pay compensation to the family for damages arising out of the loss of their son.
For more information about wrongful death or premises liability, please contact a dedicated Stockton injury attorneyat the Law Office of Frederick J. Sette, helping families of those harmed by the negligence of others for more than 15 years.