The family of a 24-year-old woman who was killed by a truck while riding a bicycle in San Francisco in 2013 was recently awarded $4 million by a San Francisco jury. The jury found the truck driver was negligent in striking and killing the woman. The victim’s family was represented by Micha Star Liberty of Liberty Law and William Veen and Jeremy Cloyd of the Veen Firm.
The woman, who worked at a marketing firm, was riding her bicycle to work on August 14, 2013 in the South of Market neighborhood. The bicyclist was killed when the truck driver turned from Folsom Street onto Sixth Street. At the time of the collision, the woman was proceeding straight in a designated bike lane and was wearing a helmet.
Initially, the woman was found to be at fault for the collision for overtaking the truck on the right. However, after a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition located surveillance video of the crash and turned it over to the police, the truck driver was found to be at fault and eventually cited, months later, for the incident. Nonetheless, no criminal charges were brought by the District Attorney’s office against the driver.
The investigation into the woman’s death was labeled “sloppy” by many and the San Francisco Police Chief later apologized and pledged to change how police investigate collisions caused by drivers who injure bicyclists or pedestrians. There was also uproar after a police sergeant showed up at a memorial for the cyclist, blocked the bike lane with his police car, and made comments that insinuated that the woman and other cyclists hit in crashes in that area had been to blame for their accidents.
The family of the woman filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the produce company that employed the driver. During the trial, the company’s attorneys continually blamed the bicyclist for her own death. The defense argued that the bicyclist was solely responsible for her death because she was unsafely attempting to pass the driver on the right while he was turning. The defense also argued that the woman was distracted by her use of earbuds and an iPod, which were found at the scene. The family of the victim argued that the driver should have ensured that it was safe to turn before doing so and that he should have merged into the bike lane before turning instead of turning across it.
Ultimately, the jury found that the bicyclist was not responsible for the collision and that the driver and the produce company were solely liable. After four days of deliberations, the juryawarded $4 million in damages, $3 million to the woman’s mother and $1 million to her father.
There is some good news following this horrible tragedy. As a result of this fatal collision, there are more protocols in place for handling investigations into bicyclists’ deaths. The site of the fatal accident has been reconfigured, with the bike lane painted green to make it more visible, which may in the future help prevent other accidents of this type. This incident has also served to raise awareness of the dangers posed to cyclists by drivers and may go a long way towards improvements in San Francisco’s roadways that will make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Micha Star Liberty of Liberty Law, along with her co-counsel from the Veen Firm, were honored to help this family in their pursuit for justice following the death of their daughter. The personal injury lawsuit was the only way in which the family was able to obtain justice, since no criminal charges were filed in the case. In the end, justice prevailed and the jury recognized that the bicyclist was not negligent. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in San Francisco, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco bicycle accident attorney, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. Call today to learn more about how she can help you in your pursuit for justice.