For a wrongful death settlement in car versus bicycle accident. The bicyclist stopped at a traffic signal was rear-ended by an intoxicated driver.
$1,000,000 settlement for Plaintiff on bicycle struck in crosswalk in Seattle by dump truck.
Remme vs. State of Washington and City of Seattle
$4,000,000 settlement for Plaintiff on a bicycle who encountered a 2-inch vertical change between concrete sidewalk panels on the Montlake Bridge sidewalk. Defendants each blamed the other (State bridge; City sidewalk). Plaintiff suffered incomplete quadriplegia.
After years of work and dedication, SKW’s team of bicycle accident attorneys secured a significant settlement for Lan Remme. Lan brought suit against the City of Seattle and the State of Washington for their failure to maintain the Montlake Bridge sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. One sidewalk panel had been allowed to sink two inches.
In April 2010, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) had photo-documented the 2 inch vertical change in the concrete sidewalk panels and called it a Priority One “tripping hazard”. Although a repair number was assigned to this problem, nothing was done. One year later, on April 2, 2011, Lan Remme rode his bicycle onto the Montlake Bridge sidewalk, traveling at about 5 mph. An eyewitness observed Lan’s front bike wheel stop abruptly as it got caught in the two (2) inch “tripping hazard,” causing Lan to pitch forward over the handlebars. Lan’s helmeted head struck the sidewalk and he laid there motionless. See below illustrations.
The City of Seattle and the State of Washington settled several weeks before the trial. The City agreed to pay $2.5 million and the State agreed to pay $1.5 million.
This extreme tragedy for Lan, his wife Laura and the rest of his family was preventable. His case underscores the importance of our City and State exercising diligence to ensure that the routes they invite cyclists to use are reasonably safe for bicycle travel.
For a case where Defendant failed to yield right-of-way and crashed his company vehicle head-on into Plaintiff’s motorcycle, causing severe injuries, including a traumatic brain injury.
Co-Counsel: Steve Nordstrom.
Bicyclist hit by a motor vehicle. Fractured leg, several vertebral fractures (no paralysis) and a mild traumatic brain injury.
$1,000,000 policy limits settlement
For motor vehicle bicycle crash on SR 105 resulting in death of 31-year-old woman.
Settlement for the death of a bicyclist struck by a van exiting driveway where the van driver’s view of the cyclist was obstructed by a cut-slope embankment.
Gendler vs. State
$8,000,000 settlement for a defective bridge where a gap in the bridge deck was too wide, allowing a bicycle tire to wedge in the gap, throwing the rider to the ground and paralyzing him.
Co-Counsel: John Duggan.
You may have heard an interview on NPR, read a blog post, or read a story in The Seattle Times about this case. In the era of media spin and 15-second sound bites, it’s more often that we are forced to make assessments without the benefit of the facts. What apparently outraged some was the $8 million settlement. If you are interested in knowing the facts behind the story, read on. Make, remake, or confirm your opinion of what this case was about.
Washington State owns the Montlake Bridge. Washington State has a duty to make all roadways safe for bicyclists in addition to cars/all motor vehicles. The roadway across the Montlake Bridge was unsafe for bicycles. The State knew this, yet chose to do nothing to make it safer. No other business or government entity was responsible for the safety of the Bridge besides the State.
The Montlake Bridge
Since 1999, the Montlake Bridge had been unsafe for cyclists (the State repaired the hazard in 2009). Washington State started a retrofit of the Montlake Bridge in Seattle. The project included replacing the metal grate surface of the traffic lanes. The replacement grate was of a different design than the existing. The seam, formed by two abutting sections of grate, sits in the middle of the lanes of traffic. The specifications for the Bridge deck called for a narrow seam, one that would not have posed a danger to bicycle tires. The State allowed the deck seam to be wider than the specifications called for (based on tolerances), wide enough for a road bike tire to drop into it.
1999 - Notice to the State of a Danger
During the deck replacement project, the State found out how dangerous the seam could be. A cyclist crashed when his front bicycle tire wedged in the seam and he was thrown to the deck face-first. Concerned about other cyclists, he contacted the City of Seattle, who contacted the State’s project manager to inspect the problem. The State’s project manager made a note about the crash in his project diary.
1999 to 2009 - The State Ignored the Danger
The State’ project manager does not recall ever following up.
The State could have erected a warning sign – it did not.
The State could have fixed the problem – it assumed this would not happen again.
The State could have closed the roadway to bicycle traffic – it did not.
Mickey's Crash - October 28, 2007
Mickey met up with a friend to go for a ride around the south end of Lake Washington. They intersected near UW Medical Center. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon on Montlake, not much traffic, so they traveled on the road. There was no traffic within a block’s length behind them. Mickey rode in the right lane. Halfway across the Bridge he switched to the left lane to prepare for a left turn. As he traversed the lane, he was suddenly thrown over his front bars onto the Bridge deck on his back. His front wheel had wedged into the seam in the deck. It took two people to dislodge the wheel.
Bicycles on the Bridge
In comments to the multiple articles written about Mickey’s case, many were critical of his decision to ride on the roadway rather than on the sidewalk. This case settled in the months leading up to the trial date, but in pre-trial motions the court determined that Mickey had the right to ride on the roadway and that Mickey had the right to travel in the left lane because he was preparing for a turn.
“[I]t is the ruling of this Court that bicycles are entitled to travel upon the Montlake Bridge roadway as a matter of law.” Judge McPhee, February 16, 2010.
“Plaintiff Michael Gendler’s operation of his bicycle in the inside (left) lane of the Montlake Bridge at the time of the subject incident was authorized by law.” Judge McPhee, May 28, 2010.
The Settlement Amount
What does $8 million mean? It’s not winning the lottery. It’s not a windfall. The settlement amount represents the exorbitant costs of the care for someone with a spinal cord injury. To learn more about Mickey’s life as a quadriplegic, read this article.
The $8 million settlement was well justified, as it will help to cover exorbitant medical bills, ongoing medical care, 24/7 assistance, facility accommodations at home and at work, etc. However, proponents of legislation to reduce the frequently target the Gendler case because of the high settlement amount. We believe that most Washingtonians recognize the importance of keeping the government accountable, when government entities ignore safety issues that could ultimately result in catastrophic injuries to innocent citizens.
Settlement for injuries suffered when a vehicle ran into a motorcycle.
Settlement for death of motorcycle operator when improperly tightened wheel fell off of car and struck him.
Settlement for 61-year-old woman who suffered a comminuted and compound fracture of her leg when hit by a vehicle while traveling on a motorcycle. Infections of the leg required extensive medical treatment.
Settlement for death of a 46-year-old airline pilot husband father of two. Truck turned in front of his motorcycle. Substantial comparative negligence issues.
Settlement for death of a 12-year-old on a bicycle struck by a police vehicle.