I am writing regarding the story about a bicyclist who was hit by a driver after she rode into a pothole and fell in front of a car and then sued me and the city. I have received at least three phone calls from people after the article came out asking if I was at fault because “Sharon Levin settled.”
I am the innocent person this bicycle rider hit during the accident. I am sorry Caroline Johnson sustained life-threatening injuries. It really is a terrible and very unfortunate situation. However, I am still traumatized by the memory of her sliding under my car.
I was driving to work with my 80-year-old uncle. It was a dark and very cold January morning. I passed a cyclist in the bike lane. Then something slid under my car. Apparently, the person on the bicycle lost control of her bicycle when she hit a pothole.
What was not mentioned in your story is that there was a coffee cup on the ground by her bicycle with spilled coffee and that there was no cup holder on her bike. These facts are mentioned in the police report. Johnson has a good lawyer who had this part omitted from testimony.
After the accident, I was in shock and needed to go to therapy because I could not rid myself of the image of a woman lying under my car and not being sure if she was dead or alive. I was traumatized. After finally beginning to overcome my fear of driving near bicyclists again, I received a legal notice that I was being sued, and it all returned.
At the deposition, I was forced to relive the trauma through hours of aggressive questioning. During this process, my personal and business life was investigated by her attorneys. To return to my daily functioning, I needed to go to an acupuncturist, chiropractor and psychologist for physical and emotional support.
To this day, three years later, I can still recall the accident like it was yesterday. I have been told my numerous people that I should have sued her for her carelessness while riding her bicycle. Bicyclists should have accountability when they are riding their bikes, ie: riding with two hands – no cell phones, no drinking coffee, etc.
My insurance company found me to not be at fault but the rule of thumb is insurance companies prefer to settle than to go to court. She was granted a sizeable amount of money from my insurance company.
Johnson then settled with the city. The judge ruled that the city has to pay because there was a pothole in the street and the roads are not maintained.
My concern with this is contributory negligence. Doesn’t she have some responsibility?
I understand the need to maintain streets better, but if everyone sued the city every time they hit a pothole the city would go broke.
This case, to me, reinforces a precedent that individuals can sue to collect money and take no responsibility for their own actions. This litigious nature has negatively affected all aspects of our society such as medicine, public education, the hospitality and service industries and many other arenas.
I wish this accident never happened and feel bad for anyone, including Johnson, who suffers injuries. However, I am just as saddened by people abusing the legal system in order to profit at their community’s expense.