This is a case filed by Karren Cotty against several individuals and companies regarding her cycling accident in which she suffered personal injuries. Included in Cotty’s complaints were the Town of Southampton where she and her husband along with other experienced bikers often rode in groups. Suffolk County Water Authority, Elmore Associates Construction Corporation and CAC Contracting Corporation are the other entities included in Cotty’s complaint.
According to her story the accident happened on July 27, 2002 along a two-way paved road known as Deerfield Road in the town of Southampton north of Woodthrush Lane. She said that she was the last cyclist in the party of 8 experienced bicyclist. She considered herself as advanced to intermediate rider while her husband, whom she also rode that day of the accident, was leading the pack and was considered as the skilled cyclist. According to a report Cotty was the last person in a single filed cyclist and immediately in front of her was Peter Deutch. According to Karen, when Deutch fell she tried to avoid running into him and that’s the last thing she remembered. When she opened her eyes, Cotty already saw EMT’s helping her and Deutch from their sustained injuries.
According to her testimony, she considers herself as a “safe-rider” following instruction on cycling safety rules and habits. She wore on that day a high-end type helmet. She said that as a habit, she never ride directly on somebody’s wheel. She always allow a safe distance between her and the rider in front of her. She also remembered the weather being significantly dry and good for riding. She also said that she had already ridden Deerfield about 20 to 30 times before and making her quite familiar with the place.
According to the witness, Deutch testified that he had been riding with Cotty for 6 to 7 years already. He said that on the day of the accident, he fell because there was a construction ahead and that there were no barricades or warning signs whatsoever. Deutch also saw the other riders in front of him had difficulty manuevering because there was no shoulder on the road and all the construction materials were there at the travel path. He saw the others get pass the difficulty, just a split second and he fell. He immediately thought of Cotty who was about three feet away from him and saw her avoid him. He said that there was no real contact between his bike and Cotty’s. But as Cotty avoided Deutche on the ground he believed that she slid the same way he did and slid to the other side of the road straight on to the oncoming car from the northbound lane which he believed was still moving.
Cotty’s husband upon hearing the screeching sound of a car stopping immediately looked around to see his wife underneath a vehicle on the northbound lane of Deerfield. He also testified that normally, when riding as a group the riders in front notifies riders behind them about rode imperfections, pot holes or other hindrances that are significant to their safety either orally or by hand gestures. On that day, their group was not as tight. There were bicyclists riding ahead and sort of several feet away.
According to a friend, Dennis Schmidt who was driving his vehicle on the northbound lane of Deerfield said that he noticed no construction on his side of the road. He noticed ahead, on the opposite side of the road several cyclists riding on a single file. When he saw them, he immediately slowed down or even hit the breaks in order to be cautious. He saw Deutche fell and in no time he saw Cotty avoid her fellow rider on the ground but had turned sharply and went to his side of the road. He immediately hit the breaks, skidded and went to a stop. He did not believe that he hit Cotty at that point. Witnesses who also saw the accident testified that Schmidt was driving about 30 miles per hour, on the speed limit. Accidents like these occur in Nassau also.
Based on the reports that reached a rep, this is a case wherein several individuals and corporate entities are involved. Each has contributory factor on the outcome of the event depending on the circumstances and evidences presented. On case against Schmidt, it was determined that he was not the direct cause of the accident and was not established that he was negligent in operating his vehicle. As for the case against Deutche, further investigation still needs to be done to determine whether he was also a cause of Cotty’s accident or if he was even operating his bicycle negligently.
As for the construction that was going on during the accident along Deerfield Road, it was found out that Elmore has long finished its contract and was replaced by CAC which removed the asphalt overlay done by Elmore, living a depression on the road. CAC was found to have a liability on the Cotty’s accident.
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