Our client, age 61, preferred to ride her bicycle to and from her job. She got off work just after lunch time and was riding her bike to her apartment on a paved city sidewalk which ran beside a busy divided highway, when she began to cross over the paved parking lot exit of a business. A stop sign controlled movement of vehicles leaving the business parking area. Just as the bicyclist was crossing the parking lot driveway, a commercial van driver was attempting to leave the hotel parking lot and enter the busy highway. He was focusing on traffic coming from his left. The van driver never saw the bicyclist (going from his right to his left) until he heard a thump and saw a person’s silhouette strike the right front windshield of his van, and he immediately brought the van to a stop just after pulling into the highway. The van actually ran over both the bicyclist and her bicycle, and the driver was directed to carefully back the van away later, but only after police and rescue personnel were at the scene. Unfortunately, the bicyclist died at the scene at a result of the collision. She was survived by one adult daughter, her only child and her sole beneficiary, although decedent also had a close relationship with her grandchildren also.
The van driver claimed he had made a stop at the stop sign and simply failed to ever see the bicyclist despite looking both ways. We asserted the Virginia Code has no such directional limitation for bicycle operation on sidewalks. The van driver and his employer claimed the bicyclist was guilty of contributory negligence. We argued a motor vehicle operator has a duty to yield to pedestrians or bicyclists before entering any Virginia highway, and denied any contributory fault on the bicyclist. The case was settled for the full policy limit available from the insurance carrier insuring the van driver and his employer (i.e. one million dollars). Other details of the case are confidential.
- Virginia (state court)
- Richard N. Shapiro
- Eric K. Washburn