Louisiana DOTD Liable for Bicyclist’s Death in Work ZoneAbstract:
A Louisiana Court of Appeal recently affirmed a lower court decision which found the state negligent in failing to warn of a barricaded frontage road under construction. A driver, unaware that the road was closed for construction, drove into the barricades, killing a bicyclist who was attempting to move a barricade so he could pass through. The trial court concluded that the state breached its duty to the public by failing to affix amber flashing lights to the barricades, and by failing to place warning signs which would have alerted traffic that the frontage road was closed south of the intersection with Highway 726. The DOTD appealed the trial court finding, claiming that Vils, the driver of the truck, not the DOTD, was the cause of the bicyclist’s death. However, the Appeal Court found that the DOTD had a duty to alert unwary drivers of unusually perilous hazards, such as an unexpected detour. The higher court went on to base its affirmation on the fact that it was foreseeable that pedestrians or bicyclists would be using the road in question.