It's common knowledge that cities and counties across the San Francisco Bay Area are struggling to make their budgets. It's also a fact, however, that millions of dollars are leaving city reserves each year because of legal payouts.
Some examples are as follows:
- It costs an average of $23,000 when a piece of city property falls on someone.
- It costs an average of $10,000 when roots from city-owned trees grew in the sewer lines.
- It costs an average of $1,900 when a city vehicle hit a car.
image of San Francisco by simeon schatz
In less than five years, thousands of claims and lawsuits against the City of San Francisco totaled more than $212 million. The City also had to pay $53 million to defend those cases, which brings the total to $265 million. When asked if that was a lot of money, City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said,
"You know, not when you consider that every year, San Francisco spends $6.8 billion to run a government that includes an international airport, that includes a hospital, that includes one of the busiest transit agencies in the nation."
San Francisco gets thousands of claims and lawsuits against it every year. Some people never make a claim when they are harmed by a City employee. Some claims never lead to a payout, but others are costing taxpayers millions. Many of these claims stem from the MUNI. As a San Francisco MUNI Accident Attorney, I believe most of these accidents and injuries and claims are preventable.
How do we prevent a trolley electric pole coming off and hitting someone in the head? MUNI needs to have better vehicle maintenance procedures. MUNI needs to make itself more accountable for all traveler safety, which includes a better system to manage MUNI operators. Could it be that one of the reasons why there are so many MUNI accidents is because the City does not give the operators enough time to do their jobs safely? Or should the City be stricter in its hiring and retention policies for MUNI operators?
MUNI Chief Safety Officer Reginald Mason says, "If you don't have operators that are qualified and trained to go out there and drive, operate those vehicles on the street, you will have accidents."
I hope we can make a difference because sadly, the amount of money the City spends on these claims and lawsuits each year could pay for about 400 police officers or firefighters or about 1,000 teachers. And if the accidents and injuries and damages are predictable, then they are certainly preventable.
About the author: Claude Wyle is an aggressive advocate for San Francisco Bay Area pedestrians and bicycle riders. Claude has decades of experience representing those harmed by the wrongful conduct of others, and, as a San Francisco personal injury attorney, has fought to protect the rights of injured adults and children throughout his legal career.