Pedestrian Can Sue Streetlight Company

A woman struck by a car as she walked to her bus stop was given the right to take her claims against the streetlight utility company to trial.

The trial judge made initial findings that the intersection where the woman was struck by the car was lit by a streetlight owned by the utility company. The parties did not dispute that the light was old, installed when the roadway was two lanes. The road had doubled in size, and the streetlight had not been modernized for over 30 years. The light was described as “antiquated’ by the woman, who claimed it did not light the roadway fully. The utility company countered that its obligation to maintain the light was met when it inspected it regularly and replaced the bulbs as needed. The trial judge agreed and dismissed the woman’s claims against the utility company.

On appeal, the woman claimed that the utility company took on the responsibility to light the roadway and thus was responsible to do it properly. Arguing that maintenance of the light required more than “changing lightbulbs every four years,’ she sought the right to take her claims to a jury.

The appeal court agreed, noting that a jury may find that the utility company’s duty extended beyond merely providing the electricity and changing the bulbs, Because the question of whether a party used “reasonable care” is a question for the jury, the appeal court remanded the case for trial against the utility company.

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