Family of Bike-Path Crash Victim May Receive Settlement

A fatal motorcycle crash that took two lives in the Town of Amherst in 2012 may lead to safety changes for the area and a settlement offer for the family of one of the victims. The women who died in the crash, both Western New York residents, were walking separately along a town bike path with family members when a motorcyclist, who was driving drunk, veered off Tonawanda Creek Road and struck several people, including the two who were killed.

The family of one of the victims sued the town and Erie County, claiming the municipalities failed to properly design the section of the bike path where the accident took place. There is no barrier in that area to separate pedestrians and bicyclists from vehicular traffic on the street.

Barry Covert, a prominent criminal defense attorney, was asked by WGRZ to comment on the crash and the lawsuit. The full interview is available at WGRZ’s website.

A different layout may have averted disaster

“The question is, were they negligent in how they set up the bike path or how they maintained it,” Mr. Covert said, noting “their failure to have barriers that would prevent these types of accidents.”

Three years after the crash, there have been no safety enhancements made to the area. Mr. Covert said, “I’m surprised they haven’t already changed the bike path.”

WGRZ reports an Amherst councilmember, Mark Manna, said discussions on possible safety measures will start soon. Mr. Manna said the town may consider slowing traffic in the area, moving the path away from the road, creating a barrier between the pedestrian and vehicle areas, or other options.

Possible next steps

Mr. Manna told the Buffalo News he will sponsor a resolution asking the town’s engineering and planning departments to make recommendations for safety improvements. “My goal would be to take reasonable safety precautions, knowing that government can’t protect residents from every unforeseen tragic event,” Mr. Manna said.

The Amherst town board needs to approve its settlement offer for the family of the victim that brought suit against the town.

The motorcyclist was sentenced in State Supreme Court last year to four to 12 years in prison. Prior to the deadly crash, he had six arrests for DWI in three states during the last 15 years.

About Barry Covert

Mr. Covert, a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense.