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Menlo Park Cycling Accident Settlement

Original post made by Anon., Crescent Park, on Jun 16, 2010

I'd like to apologize in advance if this offends or hurts anyones feelings about this incident. I am very sorry to read about this loss of life and do not intend to undermine in any way the personal loss that this "family" has suffered, although it is also not clear if this was a family or a single individual spouse's loss. In any case I am sorry to hear about the accident.

The original story in Palo Alto Online was here: Web Link

The 2.4 Million dollar settlement was reported here the other day:
Web Link

There was further commentary in the San Jose Mercury News here: Web Link

The summary is that in 2007 a woman was in a tragic bicycle accident in Menlo Park, fell and hit her head and lost her life.

She was wearing a helmet and riding with friends when they rode into a construction zone where there was apparent confusion or the safety postings or devices were not configured correctly and the woman's bicycle apparently hit an object in the road that should not have been there and she went over.

I am very sorry to hear about this accident and its consequence, and for this woman's friends and family you have my condolences.

However, I think this settlement is a complete outrage, and just the kind of example of abuse of the legal system that we hear about and is universally condemned as unjust or unfair.

The net results I am looking at, and I do not have all the facts, and I was not on any jury, so this is a first order opinion based on what I have read.

1) Was the "punishment" in line with the responsibility or negligence of the defendent, in this case, not the city, but the contracting company? Can any contracting company make any construction zone 100% safe and avoid all accidents, and what should be their responsibility if they cannot? This apparently was not a motor vehicle accident, it was a biking accident, ie. something that could have happened anywhere and would not usually be fatal. Why is the contractor liable for such a huge amount? What is the difference of me hitting a rock and crashing my bike riding in the Baylands and hitting my head and this situation. Why is the complete responsiblity for this accident being accepted by the contracting company, and are they accepting it because the plaintiff has enough money or a rich enough lawyer to afford to harrass the insurance company costing it an equal or greater amount to defened itself?

2) Is the settlement in line with any award that a jury would make that might change unfair or outdated regulations and make things any better? It seems to me not.

Since the settlement details are not public, I am not sure what will be gained by anyone, except one person and their lawyer who, excuse this term, hit the jackpot, simply because of the location of this accident and their legal and economic resources

Personally, until I find facts and information to the contrary I have to consider this settlement an outrage. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Again, I think the right thing to do would have been to place partial blame on the contracting company and settle for a much smaller amount, despite the fact that this accident had nothing to do with cars or the road, and people are responsible when on a bicycle to operate it reasonably and deemed intelligent and responsible enough to accept that they may get hurt in anything they do in life.

Don't know if I have phrased this logically or sympathetically, but I was very concerned when I read this in a local paper and saw no posting of it at the Palo Alto Online website for what is almost a local issue and certainly an issue that is of national import and debate.

Comments (1)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mario
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm

You should read

Web Link

Note the most frustrating fact: the police did not report properly the cause of the accident and blamed without any proof the cyclist:

"Insofar as the accident investigation, the Police traffic collision report attempted to find Deborah at fault in committing this code violation: "no person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by this movement." The Police depositions confirmed that there was absolutely no evidence to support such a code violation. The obvious Police bias against Deborah in this accident investigation is concerning for all bicyclists."

In general, I find the police reporting in Silicon Valley for bike accidents to be overly in favor of not blaming the motorists but the cyclists. The most notorious case happened on Alpine road where a cyclist was fatally struck from behind by a semi-trailer truck but the police reported fault on the cyclist. It was obvious from how the cyclist was struck that it was from behind but the police ignored the most basic facts. This collision is now being reopened.


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