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Highway Safety

Accidents are not only caused by driver negligence.  Sometimes the roadways are unsafe. Governmental entities collect billions of dollars in taxes that are used to create and maintain of our nation’s roadways.   Highway safety and design standards vary from state to state. However, the basic duty to provide drivers with access to reasonably safe roads applies throughout the country. To fulfill this duty, states must eliminate hazards and other dangerous conditions that pose a threat to the lives of drivers.    For example, constructing sufficient guardrails and median barriers, maintaining clear zones on the shoulders of highways, warning of hazardous conditions by placing warning signs in the appropriate locations, and clearly defining crosswalks for pedestrians.

Highway Safety cases fall into three overarching categories. First, the road may simply be inadequate upon its construction. An example would be a road immediately bordered with trees or utility poles. Second, due to changes in design standards, a road may fall drastically below the current requirements for roadway safety. Third, the state has a duty to monitor and respond to conditions that did not exist at the time of the road’s construction. Examples may include significantly increased traffic volume, a new school requiring kids to cross a busy intersection, or a steady pattern of accidents in a particular location.

Government entities retain the duty to provide motorists with access to, and maintenance of, reasonably safe roads.

In order to fulfill its duty to provide reasonably safe roads, both in design and in operation, government entities must adhere to the appropriate standard of care.

The attorneys at SKW employ top engineering, safety and human factor’s experts in the field when handling these types of cases.  We are committed to bringing justice to victims injured in preventable accidents caused by the state’s substandard level of care in maintaining and constructing its roads. We are invested in holding governmental agencies accountable for their negligence and reducing the number of victims seriously injured on the roads.  As the result of our work, not only have victims received justice, but governmental entities have made roadways safer for the general public.

Wuthrich v. King County

The 2016 Wuthrich v. King County decision makes roadways in our state safer for everyone. In a unanimous decision handed down on Wuthrich, the Washington State Supreme Court held that a municipality has a duty to take reasonable steps to address overgrown roadside vegetation that makes the roadway unsafe for drivers approaching an intersection. Wuthrich advances roadway safety for… Read More

Moothart v. State of Washington

A Thurston County jury awarded a Vancouver man almost $3 million for multiple injuries caused by a pavement edge drop-off on a highway on-ramp. Todd Moothart, a 50-year-old software development engineer, was on a motorcycle ride with two friends on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in September 2013. Their plan was to head east on State… Read More

Aurora Bridge victims vs State of WA & City of Seattle

Our firm represented Charles Moreno, Jr. and Judith Laubach who sustained serious injuries as the result of a Metro bus crashing into oncoming traffic on the Aurora Bridge. A Metro bus driver was shot, and the bus traveled across the Aurora Bridge and through the railing — plunging to the ground. In 2002, we deposed SDOT employees…. Read More

Gamper v. State of Washington

(December 2013) $1.1 million settlement.  Long, deep and wide rut in road on SR 12 caused Plaintiff’s motorcycle to crash resulting in multiple internal injuries and fractures.

Gendler v. State of Washington

(August 2010) $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. You may have heard an interview on NPR, read a blog post, or read a story in The Seattle… Read More

Fogle v. Clark County

(March 2012) $2 million settlement with one defendant. Defective road design and signing. Traumatic brain injury to 19 year old girl. Case proceeds to trial against adverse driver and Clark County Public Utility.  Trial verdict of $4,352,350.

Forestier v. City of Vancouver

(November 2006) $6,050,000 settlement for a French foreign exchange student who was a pedestrian hit by a vehicle while crossing Fort Vancouver Way on her way to school.  The City failed to provide proper lighting for the crossing.

Messenger v. Electric Company

(May 2006) $2,100,000 policy limits partial settlement for a 12-year-old brain damaged boy who was a pedestrian hit by a van while crossing the street in an unmarked crosswalk.

Legier v. Mason County

(1999) $1,750,000 settlement for failure to properly maintain roads.  Resulted in deaths of two children.

Gray v. City of Shelton

(1998) $2,500,000 settlement for failure to properly design crosswalk at school crossing.  Resulted in traumatic brain injury.

Greene v. Pierce County

(1994) $5,466,878.23 verdict for highway design case for failure to have a stop sign at a railroad crossing.  Plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury and was blinded in the crash. Second largest personal injury jury verdict in the history of the County at the time.

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