Construction Zone Catastrophic for Cyclist
Fort Bend County, Texas: Mr. Andrew Treutle, a young professional at a global financial services firm in Houston, was riding his bicycle in The Woodlands early one April morning before daylight, training for his first triathlon. As he approached an intersection, a man on his way to work pulled up and stopped at the intersection, looked both ways, and pulled out right in front of Mr. Treutle. Andrew, who was wisely wearing a helmet, collided with the left front quarter panel of the truck. He sustained massive head injuries, and would have likely died had the accident not occurred so close to the Memorial Hermann Trauma Hospital in the Woodlands. While Andrew has made a tremendous and frankly, heroic, recovery, he will never return to his career.
The driver of the truck claimed he never saw Andrew. The intersection was the subject of a construction project designed to excavate and install additional turn lanes to facilitate the flow of heavy traffic through the intersection. The developer of a corporate campus adjacent to the intersection where the accident occurred owned the private construction project, and hired an engineering firm to design the project and the traffic control plan for it. The developer also hired a highway construction company to perform the work in accordance with the engineered design.
At the time of the accident, the road along which Andrew traveled was lined with construction barrels topped with tall chevron signs. The barrels were used to channelize traffic during lane closures during the day while the work progressed, and were stored along the road and used to line the intersection at night. The bright light on Andrew’s bike as he approached was far shorter in height than the sign-topped barrels.
Trace Blair and Jeff Wigington of Wigington Rumley Dunn & Blair, LLP filed suit after performing an exhaustive reconstruction of the accident, asserting that the engineering company had negligently failed to design an appropriate traffic control plan, and further failed to ensure the contractor followed the plan it did prepare. The team further asserted that the construction contractor failed to follow the mandates of the contract and the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, both of which required the removal of traffic control devices when not in use.
They were able to illustrate through the use of cutting edge interactive digital graphics just how the truck driver’s view of the approaching bicycle was blocked by the sign-topped barrels. This case settled for a confidential sum.