Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 27th, 2012 at 1:18 pm
Lawyers for a woman injured in a right hook collision in September 2010 at the notorious NE Couch/Grand intersection have filed a lawsuit against United Rentals Northwest alleging that one of their drivers was not properly trained.
The suit has been filed by Portland-based Shulman DuBois LLC. According to a statement, they allege that United Rentals was "negligent in their failure to train [driver Drue] Kearsley properly and prevent this accident." The suit seeks over $178,000 for Jill Michaelree, who suffered a broken foot and other injuries after she was struck by the truck while riding through the intersection in the bike lane.
I happened to come on the scene of this collision right after it happened and the truck driver (who was clearly remorseful for what had happened) said to me, "We both had the green. I didn't even see her."
Ironically, the collision happened the morning after the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation named this intersection their #1 priority for a new, green-colored bike box due its crash history and safety risks. The bike box was installed one month after Michaelree's incident. (But it turns out, not even a bike box could fix right-hooks here. Eventually, PBOT installed an illuminated bicycle sign and I haven't heard about any collisions since.)
"The lack of a bicycle box does not excuse the allegedly negligent behavior of the United Rentals Northwest driver and his failure to watch for bicyclists before turning," said lawyer Sean DuBois.
In a press statement, DuBois said this lawsuit is also meant to remind companies about the importance of training drivers to operate safely, especially when around bikeways.