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California Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Wheelchair Accident

A wrongful death lawsuit in California has been filed on behalf of a woman who died after a wheelchair accident on the handicap access ramp that violated applicable building codes as well as Federal Americans with Disabilities guidelines.

The complaint was filed in the Ventura County Superior Court of California by the family of Winnie Young, against the City of Simi Valley, MDM Construction, and Five K, which owns and constructed the Del Taco restaurant where the accident occurred.

According to the premises liability lawsuit, Young fell from her wheelchair on March 12, 2008, while being pushed by her son. The complaint alleges that the wheelchair accident occurred as a result of a dangerous drop off and a lack of safety rails on the ramp to the parking lot of the restaurant.

As a result of the fall, Young suffered a heart attack and brain injuries that left her in a coma for more than week. She died earlier this year, and her family claims that the death was directly related to the injuries sustained in the wheelchair ramp accident, from which she never fully recovered.

The lawsuit alleges that the restaurant did not follow safety codes when constructing the ramp, which prevented her son from properly negotiating the ramp. The City of Simi Valley was included on the complaint because they signed off on the deficient ramp design and allowed the business to open despite the violations.

Safety rails were added to the ramp shortly after the accident.

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) calls for handrails on all wheelchair access ramps more than six inches high or more than six feet in length. Other ADA wheelchair access ramp requirements include:

  • Landings every 30 feet
  • Slopes with a maximum of 1:12 ratio.
  • A clear width of at least 36 inches
  • Landings at the very top of the ramp and where the ramp meets the ground

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