In June 2012, a jogger turned around suddenly on the Roanoke River Greenway in Roanoke, Virginia and caused a cyclist to fall off of her bicycle. The cyclist, Ann Shepherd, sustained injuries including bleeding and bruising of the brain. She brought a suit against the jogger, 62-year-old William Bundy, stating that Bundy was negligent and that his failure to signal caused the collision. Shepherd sought $750,000, citing $81,000 in medical bills and $7,600 in lost wages. Last month, a jury determined that Bundy was negligent and ordered him to pay Shepherd $300,000.
This case is just one example of a jogger who failed to signal before stopping or changing direction on a shared use trail, and this is an issue that all trail users - runners, cyclists, walkers, and rollerbladers - need to take seriously. If you're a cyclist, announce your approach. Let slower riders and joggers know that you're passing them. If you're a jogger, be aware of your surroundings. If you need to stop or change direction, hop off of the trail or make sure that you're not turning around into the path of oncoming traffic.
Shared use trails are wonderful, and the DC metro area has an incredible network of trails that can be enjoyed for recreational rides and runs as well as for commuting. In this case, the jury determined that the jogger was negligent, but it is up to all of us to protect ourselves and to protect others by staying alert, signaling, and being respectful and safe when sharing the path with others.
If you've been injured in a similar situation, you may be entitled to compensation as well. Please feel free to contact me to discuss your case if you have questions or concerns about an accident.