Deadly Skateboarding Accidents Lead to Tougher Regulations for Los Angeles Skateboarders

Accident and injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that the Los Angeles City Council is adopting measures that will require skateboarders to follow city traffic laws. The tougher regulations are in response to two recent deaths of young skateboarders.

As of January 22nd, skateboarders will have to follow the same rules of the road as bicyclists and motorists. The new regulations follow a deadly skateboarding accident last January, when a 15-year-old skateboarder from Palmdale died when he collided with another skater going 40 miles per hour. The boy suffered severe injuries and was not wearing a helmet.

The accident occurred in San Pedro, an area with steep hills that attract skaters looking to “bomb,” which is riding down large hills, without stopping, at dangerously high speeds. In 2011, 13 skaters died while “bombing” in the United States. San Pedro residents say that these skateboarders sometimes dart in front of traffic, blow through intersections, and ignore stop signs and lights.

For some, skateboarding is a standard mode of transportation, although they do not follow the rules of the road. San Pedro residents say they never see skaters wearing any kind of protective or reflective gear, even while riding in the dark, and that they are extremely concerned about the skater’s safety but do not know what to do about it.

An answer came from Los Angeles City Councilman and former police officer Joe Buscaino when he called for stricter regulations and for new skate parks to be built throughout the city. Officials are hoping that the construction of new parks will encourage skaters to stay off the streets. According to statistics by skatepark.org, of the 42 skateboarding fatalities in 2011, 41 skaters died outside of a skate park, 40 of those being on a public street. The implementation of new skate parks may help divert some skaters from riding on public streets, but it will not completely solve the problem, as evidenced by the 2011 statistics.

The 15-year-old boy’s death occurred just three months after another teenager died on the streets of San Pedro. A 14-year-old San Pedro High School freshman was killed after falling from his skateboard and suffering severe head injuries. Previously, it was difficult to regulate skateboarding because it was not widely recognized as an official mode of transportation. The deaths of these boys, however, is spurring public outcry for new ordinance.

LAPD is conducting monthly task forces in attempts to crack down on dangerous skating practices like bombing and not wearing helmets. In the first task force, 17 citations were issued, half of them going to minors. The age of the average skateboarding fatality is 15. For most, the new laws are welcomed. Bicyclists and motorcyclists are required to wear protective gear and follow the rules of the road, and it only makes sense that skateboarders are required to do the same.

Depending on the jurisdiction, many of these types of lawsuits may place blame on both parties. For example, in Santa Cruz, Shawn Erwood crashed into a car being driven by James Hatch at a local intersection. Erwood suffered numerous injuries, for which the court awarded him $600,000. However, the court determined that Erwood was 37% to blame for the accident, stating that he was riding his skateboard too fast. Erwood’s damages award was, then, reduced to $387,000.

Personal injury attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm hope that these new regulations will prevent further young skateboarder death and injury from occurring on LA streets. If you or someone you love was injured while skateboarding, consider seeking legal guidance as you may have a right to damages.

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