Shoreline, WA — October 11, 2017, a 14-year-old was critically injured as the result of an accident in which he was struck by a semi-truck.
According to police officials, the incident occurred in the afternoon hours of Wednesday at the intersection of Aurora Avenue and 175th Street.
Preliminary reports indicate that the teenager was riding a bicycle crossing through the intersection. As he did so, a semi-truck attempted to turn off of Aurora onto 175th. The driver did not see the bicyclist in time, hitting him.
The truck dragged the boy for some distance before stopping. EMS came to the scene and transported the boy to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.
Police reported no charges or citations following the accident. The incident is still under investigation.
Map of the Area
Some of the reports I’ve seen showed witness accounts saying that the truck had the right of way at the time of the accident. Whether or not that’s true, I can’t say. However, I’m sure some people will read those reports and believe that automatically means the bicyclist was at fault for the crash. While determining right-of-way is certainly an important factor for determining liability, it is not the sole factor which the law takes into account.
All drivers have a legal duty to operate their vehicles safely, and professional drivers are held to an even higher standard. When an accident occurs, the law basically asks, “Would a reasonably prudent driver have been able to avoid the accident?” If the answer is no, then that driver likely wouldn’t bear any liability.
For example, let’s say a car pulls out of a driveway into the path of pickup, causing an accident. If the car pulled out directly in front of the pickup with only a few feet to spare, even the most careful drivers would have difficulty avoiding such an accident. However, if the car was clearly visible and far enough away, a reasonably prudent driver would most likely be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. If the pickup driver failed to do so, they were probably doing something they shouldn’t have been.
So how exactly does that apply here? Well, if the truck indeed had the right-of-way, and the cyclist entered his path with barely a moment to spare, it would be unreasonable to expect the driver to avoid an accident. That being said, if the boy was clearly visible and far enough away, the truck driver would have a responsibility to avoid hitting him right-of-way or not.
Again, I’m not saying one way or another if either of these scenarios occurred. I feel it’s important that people understand that someone having the right of way in an accident doesn’t exonerate them of any wrongdoing. There still needs to be a thorough investigation which considers all factors contributing to the accident. With those facts in-hand, it can then be determined who bears more responsibility for the incident.
–Grossman Law Offices