Florida company to pay $3M after fatal bike crash

July 12, 2017 -  By

The widow of a cyclist who died in 2011 when he collided with a parked truck owned by a landscaping company was awarded $3 million in damages late last month.

E&S Landscaping, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based full service landscape company originally faced a $50 million lawsuit, a judge determined the deceased man shouldered the majority of the fault and awarded his widow $3 million, according to a report from Courtroom View Network.

This is the second known verdict this year related to cyclists colliding with a landscape vehicle parked on the side of the road. BrightView is currently appealing a $39 million wrongful death verdict awarded to the widow of a Houston firefighter after he collided with one of the company’s trailers.

William Donley, 60, crashed into the E&S Landscaping truck in August 2011. The family physician was wearing a helmet, traveling about 15 mph and in the middle of a long-distance ride, according to the report. He died from his injuries a few days later.

Donley’s widow’s attorney, Willie Gary, said the truck was obscured from view until it was too late. Gary, who called Donley “a stickler for details” and said the doctor would have never ran into the parked vehicle if it were visible, said that the workers should have found a safer place to park.

“You’re going to force (cyclists) out in the roadway just because it was convenient for these workers to park, blocking the sidewalk, blocking the bicycle path, when they had other options,” Gary said. “They had other options.”

Gary originally requested $52.2 million for Donley’s widow, Latricia. Yet, jurors decided Donley was “70 percent responsible” for the crash, stating that he could not see the vehicle due to dehydration and fatigue after his 26-mile ride—not due to improper safety practices. The plaintiff was awarded $3 million, which will likely be reduced to $900,000 after the trial, according to the report.

In May, Landscape Management reached out to the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) for some tips for safely parking vehicles. Here are some quick tips from that story:

  • Landscape trucks and trailers should not be parked in active traffic lanes;
  • When possible, trucks and trailers should be parked in driveways, parking lots or other areas away from roadways and traffic;
  • Crew members should only park alongside roadways in areas where it is legal to do so and there is no alternative;
  • Operators should make certain no parts of the vehicle, trailer or trailer ramps extend into a traffic lane;
  • Trailer ramps should be folded up or removed when equipment is not being unloaded/loaded. If you don’t or can’t remove or fold them in, place orange cones around the ramps to alert drivers;
  • Use cones, barricades and other warning devices when working in or near traffic areas;
  • Do not park vehicles or equipment where they are likely to get hit; and
  • If mechanical trouble develops and you must stop on the side of the road, use your emergency flashers and immediately put out flares or other warning devices in accordance with regulations.

For more, check out the full story or the NALP Safe Company Program manual.

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About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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