Davis Law Group is proud to announce that our award-winning team of personal injury attorneys successfully recovered a $10 million settlement on behalf of a bicyclist who was rendered quadriplegic after striking an unmarked bollard on the Green River Trail in Tukwila, WA in 2017.
Our client, Carl Schwartz, was riding his bicycle on the Green River Trail on March 13, 2017 when he came upon an unmarked bollard located in the middle of the trail. Because the bollard was not installed according to King County's documented guidelines, which it had adopted from the federal government years prior, it was difficult to see and posed a danger to Mr. Schwartz and others who use the trial for recreational purposes.
PHOTO: The unmarked bollard at Cecil Moses Memorial Park in Tukwila, WA.
Tragically, Carl struck the bollard head-on and was ejected from his bicycle. He was found badly injured on the ground by passersby, who assisted by calling 911 so that he could get immediate medical attention. He was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he spent several months undergoing evaluation and treatment.
Liability For Failure to Follow Bollard Guidelines
Attorney Chris Davis and the team at Davis Law Group knew that litigating this case would be key to holding King County accountable for the damages that Mr. Schwartz had suffered, so we filed a lawsuit against the county in October 2017. Mr. Davis argued that the county failed to follow its own guidelines for installing bollards in the pathway of bicyclists and other recreational users.
A diagram of proper marking and placement of bollards on public recreational trails can be seen below:
King County’s filed a motion for summary judgment dismissing the case, which was granted by the trial court. But Carl Schwartz and our team of attorneys appealed to the Washington 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 ultimately determined that we presented substantial evidence to show that the bollard was a known dangerous artificial latent condition. Pierce County Superior Court set a trial date of August 7, 2023.
The Washington Supreme Court ruling, a 5-4 majority decision, set precedent that will allow accident victims in Washington more access to justice. 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.
How This Accident Affected Our Client's Life
Carl was an experienced bicyclist and spent much of his free time riding on the many beautiful public trails Western Washington has to offer. This preventable tragedy completely flipped his life upside down. He had no way of knowing that morning would be the last bike ride he ever took, and that his family would have to make the difficult choice to leave Western Washington to find a home more suitable for Carl's needs.
Carl's wife, Sherry, was also called upon to serve as Carl's primary caretaker. Every day for more than 6 years, Sherry assisted Carl with his daily routines, administered medication, and transported him to and from countless medical appointments and as he recovered from a number of surgical procedures.
While our attorneys were certainly looking forward to the opportunity to hold King County accountable in court, we are pleased that this settlement gives the Schwartz family the opportunity to bring closure to this tragic incident and move forward with their lives.