Following an out-of-court settlement for nearly $7 million last year after a serious bicycle accident, the City of Mercer Island has reached a $7.25 million injury settlement after another bicycle accident.
Plaintiffs in this case were a woman who was rendered quadriplegic in a bike accident and her family. She reportedly lived on the island, located in Washington State, at the time of the accident in April 2013.
According to her complaint, as detailed by the Mercer Island Reporter, plaintiff was riding her bicycle along the road when she swerved to avoid a passing car. She then hit a bump that was unmarked and unseen, causing her to flip over top of her handlebars. As a result, her neck was slammed up against a sizable mailbox post situated on the side of the road.
In this case, it was later discovered that “bump” was in fact a water diversion berm, which is meant to channel the rainwater from nearby properties into the ditch. The city denied it was liable for the bicycle accident injuries because the berm is approximately 35 feet away from the mailbox post. There are more than five dozen of these features across the island.
Plaintiff initially sought more than $80 million from the city, with her husband and three children also collectively seeking an additional $5 million.
The city noted plaintiff had ridden over or near this same features hundreds of times over the course of her eight years as a resident of the area and avid cyclist. She had never before had this kind of an issue, defendants argued, and the only reason she had one this time was because of the actions of the motor vehicle driver (who was never identified) – not the city.
However, plaintiffs alleged the city was negligent in the way it designed and maintained these features and also for the fact that it failed to warn people about them. As plaintiffs’ attorney noted in the complaint, the bump is very difficult to see. It was unmarked. It was not painted.
The city said there had been no accidents since the road was resurfaced in 2004. Further, the city argued that due to plaintiff’s injuries, which included brain trauma, she was unable to remember exactly how her accident occurred. In fact, the city tossed out the theory that plaintiff had taken one of her hands off the handlebar to wave to a passing car.
Plaintiffs countered that theory was unsupported by the evidence.
The case was set for trial in February but then continued until July. The trial was underway when the city decided to settle. The settlement will be covered by city’s insurance.
The case mirrors another stemming from a 2006 bicycle accident in which plaintiff was paralyzed after striking a fixed wooden bollard on the trail as she swerved to try to avoid hitting a construction fence that was on the trial.
Despite this latest settlement, the city said it has not plans to remove the berms or paint them, arguing they are an essential component of storm water treatment management.
As our Fort Lauderdale bicycle injury lawyers understand, most serious bicycle-related injuries are caused by an encounter – or close encounter – with a motor vehicle. However, there may be some circumstances in which a feature of the road or trail is grounds for legal action against the property owner/ manager.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Mercer Island settles injury lawsuit at $7.25 million, June 18, 2016, By Katie Metzger, Mercer Island Reporter
More Blog Entries:
Bernardoni v. City Saginaw – Sidewalk Trip-and-Fall Accident Lawsuit, July 19, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog