The United States Center for Disease Control estimates that each year, bicycle accidents will cause 500,000 injuries requiring emergency room treatment and 700 wrongful deaths. Due to their fewer numbers and smaller size, bicyclists are less visible to car and truck drivers, making them more vulnerable to accidents. However, all motor vehicle operators have a duty to follow the rules of the road to protect the safety of those sharing the roadways, including bicyclists. Bicycle accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, including: failure to share the lane, drunk driving, improper turns, distractions, misjudgment of speed, failure to yield the right of way, and poor visibility.
Cole Porter was participating in the Tour de Fair Haven Bicycle Race in New Jersey when he got into an accident. Porter, who was an avid bicyclist, collided with the chief race referee at approximately 30 miles per hour. He was thrown from his bicycle and his head hit the pavement. Doctors kept Porter in a medically induced coma for 14 days. He eventually passed away two weeks after the incident.
According to NJ.com, the Porter family has filed a lawsuit against USA Cycling, Cycles 54, Circle Motorsports, Circle BMW, Forefront Inc., Daniel Donnelly, Christian Young and Michel Berger. This lawsuit asserts that the race’s organizers did not properly follow USA Cycling rules. The lead car is required to have two people, and this car had just one. The one person was supposed to have a walkie-talkie, but the organizers failed to put one in the car. When the referee realized the man in the car did not have a walkie-talkie, he attempted to toss one to him. However, the device fell onto the street and the referee ran in front of the bicyclists to retrieve it. This is the moment when Porter struck the referee. The lawsuit stated, “The conduct of Mr. Donnelly was reckless in not only attempting to throw the communication device into the car but also running into the street directly in front of the racers who were only 10 to 20 feet away from him.” Ultimately, the Porter family settled with the defendants for $7.1 million. Raymond Gill Jr. represented the estate of Cole Porter. Norman Hobbie represented the Porters’ daughters.