Family of Bicycle Accident Victim Who Struck Her Head After Hitting Defective Lane Divider Settles California Wrongful Death Lawsuit for $2.4 Million

December 31, 1969

John Gerrity, the widower of Deborah Johnson, is speaking out about the tragic bicycle accident that killed his wife because he wants to prevent other cyclists from suffering the same fate. Gerrity settled his $2.4 million California wrongful death settlement with the city of Menlo Park several months ago.

Johnson sustained fatal head injuries when she was fell off her bike on Sandhill Road on July 22, 2007. She died two days after the tragic California bicycle accident.

According to Johnson's friend, the 54-year-old cyclist fell because her bike hit the base of a "candlestick" delineator that had become separated from its orange pole. Johnson's husband, John Gerrity, says the lane divide should not have been there at all.

Just two days before the tragic bicycle accident, Menlo Park Public Works Department had just completed paving the road. They had set up dividers to mark the bike lane. The divers were removed soon after the California traffic crash.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices says that raised pavement markers and posts should not be used to separate travel lanes from bike lanes. The federal manual noted that raised devices are a bicycle crash hazard. Gerrity, who has researched traffic safety practices and codes since his wife death, says that after a road is repaved it is standard practice to leave it unmarked while the asphalt is drying. After that, a temporary line or strip is painted onto the road until permanent markings are created.

Entities in charge of maintaining roads must make sure there are no road hazards, related defects, or debris on the road that can cause injuries or deaths. Not only must they put warnings sign up when any kind of road improvements are being done to indicate to motorists and bicyclists that they must proceed with caution as they enter a road construction zone, but also they must make sure to clear up all debris, machinery, and equipment after the project is over so that drivers and cyclists don't end up striking any objects that have now become safety hazards.

Orange County, California Traffic Crashes

Unfortunately, road debris can cause serious Orange County, California personal injuries and wrongful deaths. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 25,000 of US auto crashes and 90 traffic fatalities a year were at least partially caused by road debris. Road debris refers to objects that shouldn't be on the road, such as fallen tree branches, broken class, furniture items that may have fallen out of trucks, and other items. Road debris and defects can cause a trucker, the driver of a car, bicyclist, or motorcyclist to lose control of his/her vehicle, which can result in tragic Orange County, California traffic crashes.

$2.4 million settlement reached in wrongful death suit over fatal bike accident on Menlo Park's Sand Hill Road, Mercury News, June 12, 2010


Related Web Resources:

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

California Bicycle Coalition

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices