We were happy to help many clients in 2018, but we ended the year with an almost month-long jury trial involving a collision in a marked crosswalk where the jury found ZERO responsibility on the part of the defendant.
The collision occurred when our client was more than halfway across the street in the crosswalk shown above and had the right to assume that the driver would obey the law and stop for her.
Sadly, the jury decided that the defendant driver exercised “ordinary care” in failing to stop for the crosswalk and in passing another vehicle that had stopped for our client to use the crosswalk.
This is ZERO VISION, not VISION ZERO. This is why we need to legislate Presumed Liability NOW.
You’ve probably heard about #PresumedLiability from us (and others) before. We didn’t expect to need it in this trial, because the state laws requiring drivers to stop for crosswalks appear to be straightforward and strong. But, as you probably know all too well, those laws are frequently not obeyed and are rarely enforced.
A King County Jury decided that NOT following those clear crosswalk laws constituted Ordinary Care. Here’s what that means: Injured people have the burden to prove negligence. Negligence is the failure to exercise Ordinary Care. In most situations, injured people are only compensated by insurance companies (even their own) if they can prove negligence on the part of another person.
The Court instructed the jury that the driver had a duty to stop at the crosswalk and that the driver had a duty not to pass another vehicle that was stopped for our client to use the crosswalk. Nevertheless, the jury found that the driver exercised Ordinary Care.
Until we change the law and create Presumed Liability, many drivers will not stop at crosswalks. And it’s not just crosswalks. Our streets are not and will not be safe without a change in the law. Better education, better enforcement, and (especially) better infrastructure will all help, but reforming our laws can be done without without protracted budget battles to secure funding—all it takes is the political will.
Let’s DO this! Please join us in working to pass legislation creating a presumption of liability for drivers who collide with pedestrians or people riding bikes. This is not #StrictLiability. Drivers could still prove that a pedestrian or person riding a bike was at fault, but drivers would have the burden to prove fault.
We should pass a presumption of liability law state-wide. Particularly in Seattle, the danger of riding bikes or even walking makes some people drive who would otherwise walk or ride. With our increasing density and #PeriodOfMaximumConstraint a/k/a #JennyJam coming up, we need to do everything possible to move people and make our streets safe for everyone. We need to pass this law.
Washington Bike Law is committed to making our streets safer for everyone and will do our best in 2019 to make this law a reality.
If you want to be involved in legislative efforts to pass a presumption of liability law state-wide and/or just in Seattle, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be resuming regular meetings with interested parties soon.