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Urine soaked lampposts smash San Francisco cars. San Diego may be next.

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Fido and dog’s best friend share the blame for this accident

Here’s a somewhat amusing story. In San Francisco a lamp post falls on a car while its driver waited for a green light at the intersection of SF’s Pine and Taylor streets. No one is injured. There is no wind, no sign of vandalism, and no earthquake behind the incident. Why did the lamp post fall? Corrosion brought on by urine. Yes, urine. Dog and possibly dog’s best friend’s urine rusted the base of the lamp post until the weight of a flag was enough to snap it at the base. Needless to say, the internet had a howl with the story.

The driver of the car, however, was “pissed.”

San Diego urine soaked lamp post

Picture from http://www.nbcsandiego.com

It’s a dog-gone shame, and Fido is long gone, so who’s going to pay the bills if this happens to you?

Since the dogs certainly aren’t stepping up to the plate to accept responsibility, if you happen to be the one with the smashed car, how do you get restitution?

Your insurance should cover it

If you have automobile insurance, and we hope you do, best thing to do is file a claim with your insurance company. They’ll pay for the damages and then go after the city to recoup their losses.  If you do not have insurance, file a claim with your city to cover the costs of repairs. If you’re in San Diego, that claim form is here.

If injury is involved, call an attorney

But what if the driver had been hurt or a pedestrian had been killed? Could a civil case be brought against the city then? Certainly. More information on litigating against a public entity can be found on the California Bar Association website, but it’s recommended you consult with an attorney and save yourself the trouble of having to navigate around the legal system yourself –  not to mention the fact that you have a better chance of winning your case with an attorney. When injury is involved, you need a personal injury attorney.

What next for our aging cities – including San Diego?

This story seems kooky in that “only in San Francisco” way, but it could have happened anywhere. SF isn’t the only city with aging infrastructure and not enough money to cover it all, after all. In fact, San Diego had its own incident last month on 10th Avenue.

Some incidents can be prevented if passersby take the time to fill out maintenance requests with San Diego city hall if they happen to notice disrepair. In this case, we’re not sure what to look for. Perhaps a sniff test?

Perhaps more encouraging is the fact that cities are taken note of these incidents across the nation, and some are already taking the steps to replace their light poles. San Francisco is doing just that. San Diego also happens to be upgrading our street lights to cost efficient and eco-friendly LED lights, so hopefully that will take care of the problem and we won’t see any more falling lampposts – at least for a generation until the new ones get soaked. You can read about San Diego’s LED street light upgrade here.

In addition, entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity and the publicity to come out with what they hope will be a solution – pee-proof paint. Apparently, it knows the difference between rain and urine, and repels back the urine to its source. The picture below shows how it works.

pee-proof paint

Are the cities using it on lampposts? Haven’t heard, and it hasn’t been tested on dogs yet to know if they’d care.  But, regardless, urine-corroded lampposts still need to be replaced before someone really gets hurt or killed. With possible heavy lawsuits coming their way if they ignore the problem, cities are motivated to make the change.

In the meantime, dog owners are being encouraged to steer their pooches to corrode-resistant fire hydrants. I can’t help but wonder how the fire department feels about that.


If you or anyone you know has been injured in a street accident in a car, on a bike or as a pedestrian in the San Diego area, contact one of the personal injury attorneys here at the Law Offices of Steven Elia for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation. We’ll let you know if you have a case. 

Steven Elia

Steven Elia

Mr. Elia has extensive litigation experience having appeared at more than 1,000 civil hearings including jury and bench trials, over 500 depositions, and hundreds of mediations. Some of his cases have made national headlines. He specializes in personal injury, business law and civil litigation in and around San Diego.
Steven Elia
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