Bicyclist Sues King County For Injuries That Left Him A Quadriplegic

Posted on Oct 23, 2017

Schwartz v. King County

bicycle accident victim paralyzed

Attorney Chris Davis, founder of Davis Law Group, P.S., has filed a civil lawsuit against King County on behalf of accident victim Carl W. Schwartz in connection with a bicycle accident that left him a quadriplegic.  The accident took place on March 13, 2017 in Cecil Moses Memorial Park in Tukwila, WA. 

LAWSUIT: Read the complaint

PHOTO: Carl Schwartz, bicycle accident victim.

Carl Schwartz, a fit and active retired hospital administrator, was riding his bicycle on the Duwamish/Green River Trail, which is part of the county's Regional Trails System (RTS). While riding through Cecil Moses Memorial Park, he struck an unmarked bollard in the middle of path and was thrown from the bike.  Skip to Design and Construction Standards Applicable to Bollard Installation & Use.

LINK: Visit the family's fundraising page

FIGURE: Example of Obstruction Pavement Marketings, King County Regional Trails System (RTS) Development Guidelines

unmarked bollard.bollard caused bicycle accident

PHOTO: The unmarked bollard at Cecil Moses Memorial Park in Tukwila, WA.  

The force of the collision snapped Mr. Schwartz's bike frame in half and slammed him down into the pavement. Mr. Schwartz was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he spent more than three months while he was treated for severe, life-threatening injuries. He is currently paralyzed from the neck down -- C2 Complete, Quadriplegic. The family is facing millions of dollars in medical bills. 

Mr. Schwartz is a loving husband, father of two sons, and grandfather of four. He was very active and enjoyed cycling, hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and long city walks. Before the accident, he had been looking forward to walking his granddaughter down the aisle at her wedding, finishing a book he was working on, and attending his grandchildren's sporting events.

The bollard that Mr. Schwartz struck was placed in the middle of the trail to divide foot and bicycle traffic; typically, traffic safety experts recommend that bollards should be used only to keep vehicles out of pedestrian areas, and that other methods of blocking vehicles should be used when possible.

Other bike riders in the area had been injured after previous collisions with the bollard. There were no markings on the pavement indicating that there was a bollard ahead -- markings which are required by: 

  • United States Department of Transportation (USDOT)’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
  • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO or AASHTO Standards) Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities
  • Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Design Manual
  • King County Road Design and Construction Standards 
  • King County Regional Trails System (RTS) Development Guidelines 

Bicycle Accident Lawsuit Filed

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Chris Davis in Pierce County Superior Court (17-2-12349-3), alleges that the defendant, King County Washington, acted negligenty. Because of King County’s negligent and/or reckless conduct, Mr. Schwartz was injured, suffered, and continue to suffer, physical disability and pain, emotional trauma, medical expenses, loss of earnings and earning capacity, loss of consortium, and other damages.

According to the complaint for damages, King County did not install appropriate pavement markings surrounding the bollard, or install other warnings to alert cyclists and users of the hazard associated with the bollard, as required by the MUTCD, AASHTO, and the WSDOT Design Manual.

King County Bicycle Safety Standards

King County Road Design and Construction Standards adopted the design and construction standards and guidelines for bicycle facilities, including trails and shared-used paths, that are set forth in the WSDOT Design Manual and the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities adopted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO or AASHTO Standards). As well as the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT)’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).  

King County’s Road Design and Construction Standards provide that all pavement markings on bike paths and trails, including those to alert path users of the existence of bollards, shall be as provided in MUTCD and AASHTO. King County Road Design and Construction Standards also adopt the striping and pavement markings according to the MUTCD and AASHTO. 

Design and Construction Standards Applicable to Bollard Installation & Use

At the time of the occurrence that is the subject of this lawsuit, the WSDOT Design Manual (WSDOT Standard Plan M-9.60-00) required specific pavement markings around bollards installed on the traveled portion of a shared use trail, including those trails that are part of King County’s RTS, as reflected in the two figures below:

bicycle trail bollard standards

The MUTCD also requires specific pavement markings for bollards or obstructions installed on shared use trails like those in King County’s RTS, as reflected in the figure below:

bicycle pavement marking standards

In 2009, King County issued a draft addendum to its RTS Development Guidelines (Addendum No. 6) that required pavement warning stripes and an “alert bar” to warn bicyclists and other path users of the existence of bollards installed in the middle of the shared use trail. Addendum No. 6 is depicted in the figure below:

bicycle bollard marking requirements


King County installed a single white unmarked bollard in the middle of a shared used trail in violation of the WSDOT Design Manual, MUTCD and AASHTO standards and guidelines. 

King County did not install appropriate pavement markings surrounding the bollard, or install other warnings to alert cyclists and users of the hazard associated with the bollard, as required by the MUTCD, AASHTO, and the WSDOT Design Manual.

King County did not use retro-reflectorized markings on the bollard itself as required by the MUTCD, AASHTO, and the WSDOT Design Manual.

King County did not install any warning signs or other barriers to alert bicyclists and other path users about the existence of the single white unmarked bollard in the middle of the trail.  

Requests For Interviews

We ask that members of the media respect the privacy of the victim’s family and direct all media requests to Davis Law Group, P.S.

Case Number: 201666
Case Title: Carl W. Schwartz v. King County
Docket: 17 2 12349 3
Court:  Pierce County Superior Court
Date Filed: 10/17/2017

 

schwartz family