Approximately 19,000 bicyclists are killed or injured each year in road accidents. As the amount of bicycling increases, so does the amount of accidents, particularly in urban areas such as Boston. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, nearly 75 percent of fatal or serious bicycle accidents occur in urban areas.
On June 15, Michael Cooley was biking home from work in Portland, Oregon when he was hit by a pickup truck. At the time of the accident, he was wearing two reflective vests and had five lights on his bike and person. As a result of the bicycle accident, Cooley suffered six broken ribs, a lacerated liver, and internal bleeding. He also suffered paralysis from the eleven fractures in his spine. The name of the driver is unknown, as he fled from the scene of the accident.
According to OregonLive, Cooley is suing the city of Portland, TriMet, and the Oregon Department of Transportation for $21.4 million. He is seeking $15 million for pain and “loss of enjoyment of life,” $1.75 million for medical and rehabilitation costs and $2.5 million for future medical costs. Cooley also seeks damages for lost wages and household duties that he can no longer complete due to his injuries. Furthermore, Cooley’s wife is seeking damages for lost “company, help, support, service and comfort of her husband.”
The lawsuit alleges that the area of road that Cooley was struck on—the mile-long stretch of North Interstate Avenue in Oregon—is so poorly designed that approximately one cyclist dies on that road each year, and roughly nine cyclists have been injured on that road in the past twelve years. Cooley claims that the bike path on that road is too narrow, forcing bicycles and vehicles to ride in the same space. Moreover, the suit alleges that the city, TriMet, and the Oregon Department of Transportation are supposed to maintain bike lanes of six feet or wider, and that this particular bike lane was less than six feet. Finally, Cooley alleges that the defendant failed to post signs that warn drivers that their lane is narrow and that bicyclists share the space on the road. Brendan Dummingan, Randolph Pickett and Jeffrey Bowersox represent the Cooley family.