Negligently Designed Infrastructure- Can you “Sue The State” or City?

In Portland Oregon a cyclist was hit by a car at 60 mph! He lived, but suffered very serious injuries, incurring medical bills in excess of $350,000.
 
Not surprisingly, he sued the driver. However, because he hired a law firm that really looks hard at bicycle cases, a couple of additional claims were filed against the City of Portland and the State of Oregon.
 
Jim Coon, who is a partner with long time cycling lawyer Ray Thomas, sued the City and State alleging that the design of the bike infrastructure was part of the cause of the crash. Those in the bike lane must cross over an area of roadway which is set at 45mph, but at which traffic routinely travels 50-60 mph. Here the cyclist claims that he looked back and saw a truck- he estimated that he had enough time/room to cut over the lane… however, the defendant zoomed around and passed the truck, and slammed into the cyclist.
These photos, from the Oregon Live page, show a bit of the problem…

 
The plaintiff alleges:
“Defendant City of Portland was negligent in:
a. Designing the intersection so as to require a cyclist in the southeast bound bike lane to cross a freeway entrance ramp where traffic routinely travels at 55-60 miles per hour;
b. Establishing a bike lane on N. Greeley Avenue southeast bound, knowing that bike lane would cross the freeway on-ramp;
c. Failing to provide a means of traveling on the southeast bound bike lane on N. Greeley Avenue without crossing the freeway on-ramp;
d. Failing to provide a bike lane on the northeast side of N. Greeley Avenue to accommodate both northwest and southeast-bound bicycle traffic;
e. Failing to warn approaching traffic of the bike lane crossing; and
f. Failing to close the bike lane until a safe design could be implemented.”
 
Against the State the allegations are:
“Defendant State of Oregon was negligent in:
a.  Designing the intersection so as to require a cyclist in the southeast bound bike lane to cross a freeway entrance ramp where traffic routinely travels at 55-60 miles per hour;
b. Establishing a bike lane on N. Greeley Avenue southeast bound, knowing that bike lane would cross the freeway on-ramp;
c. Failing to provide a means of traveling on the southeast bound bike lane on N. Greeley Avenue without crossing the freeway on-ramp;
d. Failing to provide a bike lane on the northeast side of N. Greeley Avenue to accommodate both northwest and southeast-bound bicycle traffic;
e. Failing to warn approaching traffic of the bike lane crossing; and
f. Failing to close the bike lane until a safe design could be implemented.”
We’ll be keeping an eye on this case. While Ohio has lagged behind the “Rush to Bicycle Infrastructure” we have started adding “stuff” all over the state. Some are simply green paint bike lanes, some are a lot more… interesting… let’s say… [I’m looking at YOU Mr. “2-way Bike Lane Next To One-Way Street”]
 
Under Ohio law the car/bike crash victim has significant hurdles to leap before liability can attach to a city or the state. However, this is an interesting approach… and shows the benefit of TALKING about infrastructure issues and problems, presenting your concerns to the traffic engineers and keeping the heat on… if someone bad happens along the lines fo what you predicted/warned about the prior notifications might be deemed to have put the city “on notice” of problematic, defectively designed streets…
 
You can read the article here – 
 
You can read the actual complaint Mr. Coon filed here – 
I wrote an article about a “Pothole” case in Columbus a few years ago. My friend John Alton did a tremendous job there. His client was riding a bike and was hit by a car. Jim was able to establish that a well known Pothole and other defects likely played a role in causing the crash. Jim lost at the trial level as the judge tossed the claim out without letting it get to trial. Jim appealed and won. Instead of risking a verdict the City of Columbus paid Jim’s client $1.0+ million to settle.
You can read my article about the Pothole Case here
Printed from: https://www.ohiobikelawyer.com/bike-law-101/2018/09/negligently-designed-infrastructure-can-you-sue-the-state-or-city/ .
© 2018.

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