The Coast News Group
Roberta Walker, pictured, was critically injured in a bicycle crash Saturday morning. Photo courtesy of Cardiff 101 Main Street Association

City, attorneys mum on Walker claim

ENCINITAS — Encinitas officials and the attorneys representing a prominent local leader critically injured in a bicycle incident in Leucadia in December have little to say about the status of her claim against the city after a key deadline passed this week.

Roberta Walker, the executive director of the Cardiff 101 Main Street Association, was injured before sunrise on Dec. 8, 2018, when a truck struck her when she was cycling in the “sharrow” lane on Coast Highway 101 near the Phoebe Street intersection in front of Leucadia Post Office.

April 28 marked 46 days since a Santa Ana-based law firm filed liability claims on behalf of Walker and her husband, John Paul, against the city for the Dec. 8 accident that left her hospitalized for a month with major injuries.

If a city doesn’t respond to a claim within that 46-day window, it is automatically rejected and the claimant is able to file a lawsuit, according to municipal tort claim law.

To date, there hasn’t been a lawsuit filed, according to a search of the Superior Court register of actions.

City Risk Management Analyst Jace Schwarm also confirmed that the city had not been served with a lawsuit in the matter, but said the city is still in the process of reviewing the claim.

“We haven’t taken any action, as the claim is still fairly new,” Schwarm said. “These kind of claims take a while.”

An attorney with the firm Callahan and Blaine declined to comment in an email in response to a reporter’s questions about the status of the claim.

The claim, filed March 12, holds the city liable for the conditions that caused the accident.

“There existed a dangerous condition of public property, including but not limited to the following: the pavement markings that were present were confusing and distracting to both drivers and bicyclists; the signage that was present was confusing and distracting to both drivers and bicyclists; there was an absence of proper pavement markings and signage; and there was no separate bicycle lane creating a dangerous condition on public property,” the claim states.

According to the claim, the Walkers are seeking non-economic damages including for past and future physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, anxiety and emotional distress, past and future medical and incidental expenses and damages for future loss of earning capacity.

“To date, (Walker’s) injuries have required extensive medical care, including hospitalization, multiple surgeries, in-patient physical therapy,” the claim states. “It is further expected that, as a result of such injuries, Claimant will require additional medical care in the future and will also likely sustain a future loss of earning capacity.”

Walker’s accident galvanized the city’s efforts to enact interim improvements along Coast Highway 101, including lowering the speed limit from 35 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour and installing raised crosswalks at four intersections along the stretch of highway — El Portal Basil, Phoebe and Grandview street intersections — and rumble strips at the locations, including the beginning of the Leucadia business district south of La Costa Avenue.

The city has also accelerated its proposed overhaul of North Coast Highway 101 between Leucadia Boulevard and La Costa Avenue known as the Leucadia Streetscape, approving an interim design at a recent meeting.