The State of Washington has agreed to pay $3.0 million dollars to a Clark County Washington woman for injuries she suffered in a 2015 motorcycle crash. The State blamed the motorcyclists both of whom were cited for traffic infractions. The investigation, however, proved the State was entirely to blame. The motorcyclists collided with a traffic island that was improperly designed,
constructed and maintained by the State.
The crash injured four people, two very seriously. No alcohol or drugs were involved and speed was not a factor. Traffic islands have been a contributing factor in motor vehicle accidents on SR 432 for years. In 2008 the State inexplicably missed a chance to bring the island into compliance with safety regulations at little or no cost to the State. The State has since made improvements to the island.
The crash occurred around 10 p.m. on October 17, 2015. Several experienced motorcyclists and their passengers were westbound on SR 432 also known as Industrial Way. The cyclists were riding in a staggered formation when they encountered the dangerous highway defects. Two cyclists riding on the right side of the lane collided with the traffic island. Although the island is entirely within a 50 m.p.h. through travel lane, it was constructed with prohibited 6-inch vertical curbing. The island lacked reflectors, high visibility paint, and gore lines making it nearly invisible at night. The improper vertical curbing made the impact with the island particularly dangerous to motorcyclists and caused both passengers to be ejected. Dash-cam video showed a State Trooper responding to the crash also nearly hit the island.
Had the island met even a few of the visibility safety requirements the motorcyclists would have seen it and avoided it. Tragically, had the curb been a “mountable curb as safety rules require, the State’s failure to maintain signs, paint and reflectors might have been excused because any driver who failed to see the island could drive over it without incident.
William D. Robison handled the litigation and settlement of this motorcycle accident case for Caron, Colven, Robison, Shafton.