We represented a young man who was struck on his bicycle at night. He suffered a partially amputated finger and broken ankle.
On the surface it seemed like a good case. But as it progressed, we found out the following:
- The accident happened at night.
- Our client was wearing black clothing.
- Our client had THC in his system at the time of the accident.
- Our client did not have a front light or a rear reflector.
Challenge No. 4 was probably the most difficult to overcome. Section 11.44.160 of the Seattle City Code provides:
Every bicycle, when in use during the hours of darkness, shall be equipped with a lamp on the front, which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front, and with a red reflector on the seat of a type approved by the State Commission on Equipment, which shall be visible at all distances up to six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
But one fact did come out in our client’s favor. He was hit in a pedestrian crossing.
Pedestrians are not obligated to carry lights at night or wear reflective clothing. We took the position with the driver’s insurance company that, based on where the collision occurred, it could have just as well have been a pedestrian and the driver breached her duty of care to make sure no one was in the pedestrian crossing before driving through it.
Despite the bad facts in this case the position we took worked. The driver’s insurance company paid a six-figure settlement to the injured bicyclist.