California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1121. Failure to Provide Traffic Warning Signals, Signs, or Markings (Gov. Code, § 830.8)

A public entity is not responsible for harm caused by the lack of a [insert relevant warning device] unless a reasonably careful person would not notice or anticipate a dangerous condition of property without the [insert relevant warning device].

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • Government Code section 830.8 provides: “Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable under this chapter for an injury caused by the failure to provide traffic or warning signals, signs, markings or devices described in the Vehicle Code. Nothing in this section exonerates a public entity or public employee from liability for injury proximately caused by such failure if a signal, sign, marking or device (other than one described in Section 830.4) was necessary to warn of a dangerous condition which endangered the safe movement of traffic and which would not be reasonably apparent to, and would not have been anticipated by, a person exercising due care.”
  • “Section 830.8 provides a limited immunity for public entities exercising their discretion in the placement of warning signs described in the Vehicle Code. ‘The broad discretion allowed a public entity in the placement of road control signs is limited, however, by the requirement that there be adequate warning of dangerous conditions not reasonably apparent to motorists.’ Thus where the failure to post a warning sign results in a concealed trap for those exercising due care, section 830.8 immunity does not apply.” (Kessler v. State of California (1988) 206 Cal.App.3d 317, 321–322 [253 Cal.Rptr. 537], internal citations omitted.)
  • “[A] concealed dangerous condition that is a trap to motorists or pedestrians may require the posting of a warning sign but the absence of a warning sign itself is not a dangerous condition.” (Mixon v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 124, 136 [142 Cal.Rptr.3d 633].)
  • “A public entity may be liable for accidents proximately caused by its failure to provide a signal, sign, marking or device to warn of a dangerous condition which endangers the safe movement of traffic ‘and which would not be reasonably apparent to, and would not have been anticipated by, a person exercising due care.’ This ‘concealed trap’ statute applies to accidents proximately caused when, for example, the public entity fails to post signs warning of a sharp or poorly banked curve ahead on its road or of a hidden intersection behind a promontory, or where a design defect in the roadway causes moisture to freeze and create an icy road surface, a fact known to the public entity but not to unsuspecting motorists, or where road work is being performed on a highway.” (Chowdhury v. City of Los Angeles (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1187, 1196–1197 [45 Cal.Rptr.2d 657], internal citations omitted.)
  • “[W]arning devices are required under Government Code section 830.8 and 830 (fog) only if a dangerous condition exists.” (Callahan v. City and County of San Francisco (1971) 15 Cal.App.3d 374, 380 [93 Cal.Rptr. 122].)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 264, 265

2 California Government Tort Liability Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar 4th ed.) §§ 12.76–12.79

5 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 61, Particular Liabilities and Immunities of Public Entities and Public Employees, § 61.03[4] (Matthew Bender)

40 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 464, Public Entities and Offıcers: California Torts Claim Act, § 464.85 (Matthew Bender)

19A California Points and Authorities, Ch. 196, Public Entities, §§ 196.12, 196.304 (Matthew Bender)