San Diego is paying out $1.3 million to a man who suffered severe facial injuries when he was thrown off his bicycle when it hit damaged city sidewalk three years ago in Rancho Peñasquitos.
The lawsuit settlement is the latest in a series of large payouts by San Diego for damaged sidewalks, where even the smallest lip can cause a relatively high-speed crash with significant injuries.
The payout, which the City Council approved in a session closed to the public last month, is scheduled for final council approval Tuesday in open session.
Joseph Bushman was riding his bicycle northbound on the sidewalk of Black Mountain Road near Canyonside Park in October 2018 when he hit a raised portion of sidewalk and was launched over his handlebars, according to a lawsuit filed in 2019.
Bushman hit his face on a wooden guardrail post and suffered severe facial injuries, a concussion and abrasions, the suit said. He was placed in an induced coma in the Intensive Care Unit.
The lawsuit says Bushman got reconstructive facial surgery and has sustained permanent injuries that have caused past and future wage loss. The settlement covers attorney’s fees, medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering.
Bushman’s lawsuit says city officials were aware of the damaged sidewalks that caused his injuries and should have fixed it, or at least warned people of the problem.
The settlement comes just before a civil trial was scheduled to begin Feb. 18.
A city audit in 2020 said San Diego could significantly reduce the nearly $25 million a year it spends on lawsuit payouts by investing in better employee training, deeper analyses of risks and proactive moves like fixing damaged sidewalks.
The audit found that San Diego spent $220 million total over nine fiscal years, from 2010 to 2018, handling about 20,000 claims and lawsuits filed during that time.
San Diego paid $4.85 million to Del Cerro resident Clifford Brown in spring 2017 for a 2014 crash in which he tore spinal cord ligaments and lost several teeth when he and his bike were launched 28 feet by tree-damaged sidewalk. That settlement was the largest in city history involving sidewalks.
In October 2019, San Diego paid $1.25 million to a man for injuries he suffered when a cracked sidewalk in Rolando launched him and his bicycle into the air in 2016.
In March 2018, the city paid $1 million to Edward and Mary Jo Grubbs for injuries Mary Jo suffered when she tripped on uneven sidewalk in April 2016 on Park Boulevard at Madison Avenue in University Heights.