Updated on: 9/26/2022
The Washington Supreme Court issued an important decision Thursday morning in relation to a lawsuit that Davis Law Group filed nearly five years ago on behalf of a man who was paralyzed after a serious bicycle collision in King County in 2017.
Our client, Carl Schwartz, was riding his bicycle on the Green River Trail in Tukwila, Washington on 2017 when he came upon a single unmarked bollard installed in the middle of the trail that he could not see because it blended into the background. King County failed to mark the bollard in accordance with federal safety guidelines, despite the fact that it adopted the guidelines years earlier but decided not to implement them, and Mr. Schwartz suffered life-changing injuries as a result.
Mr. Schwartz never saw the bollard when he collided into it. The impact not only destroyed his bicycle but left him a quadriplegic. Davis Law Group’s investigation showed that other trail users complained about the bollard several years earlier. One person painted warnings on the pavement to alert other cyclists about the bollard’s existence. See photos below.
Davis Law Group filed a lawsuit against King County alleging that the bollard (shown above) was an extreme hazard to trail users, the County knew this fact and failed to follow federal guidelines by adequately marking the bollard so it could be seen. The County denied any wrongdoing and asserted its was immune from responsibility under Washington’s Recreational Immunity statute. That law protects landowners who furnish their property for the public’s recreational use. Schwartz argued that there is an exception to the Recreational Immunity statute if the condition on the land was a known dangerous artificial latent condition.
The County’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the case was granted by the trial court. Schwartz appealed to the Court of Appeals which ruled in his favor. The County appealed to the Washington Supreme Court which ruled 5 to 4 in favor of Schwartz. The Court ruled that Schwartz had presented substantial evidence to show that the bollard was a known dangerous artificial latent condition. The case goes back to Pierce County Superior Court for a new trial date.
Thursday's ruling, a 5-4 majority decision, will have a tremendous impact on not only our own client, but also many other bicycle accident victims in Washington. The ruling affirms that negligent landowners will be held responsible for dangerous conditions they create on their property that cannot be easily seen or detected by recreational users.
Former Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge handled the appeal for Mr. Schwartz. You can find an embedded version of the opinion below:
Advocating for Bicyclists Across Washington
This Washington Supreme Court ruling allows us to continue in our fight to advocate for our client and pursue the end goal of justice for him and his family. Davis Law Group is proud to advocate for accident victims like Mr. Schwartz and other cyclists across Washington state who have suffered harm and personal loss as a result of negligent landowners, including powerful government entities like King County.
The award-winning Seattle bicycle accident lawyers at Davis Law Group take pride in preparing each and every case as if it will be tried in court. We believe our pursuit of this important mission allows us to achieve excellent results on our clients' behalf, just like we have seen today.
Press & Media
Media inquiries in relation to this case or any other matter should be directed to Davis Law Group's media relations team by calling Dee Dee Landon at (206) 338-2395 or emailing [email protected].