ROYALTON, N.Y. - It is an intersection now under the microscope. Bunker Hill and Gasport Roads, the scene of an accident on March 26th, 2013.
Former Royalton resident David Baier was on his motorcycle southbound at the intersection, waiting to turn right from Gasport, onto Bunker Hill. A pick-up truck driven by Steven James of Barker, according to the police report, cut the corner short and made contact with Mr Baier.
Baier's Attorney Richard Amico says his client suffered a shoulder injury, broken leg and several small fractures to his spine, leaving him a quadriplegic. "He's lucky to be alive, but unfortunately he is going to be permenantly disabled because of the injuries he sustained," Amico said.
At the time of the accident, James was ticketed for making an improper turn. However after refusing to submit to a sobriety test, Baier was charged with DWI. The charges were later dismissed.
"There hadn't been any reports of alcohol in either the run reports or from either of the witnesses," Amico said.
But Amico says this is not a case about alcohol or tickets, this is a case revolving around an unsafe intersection. That claim is at the center of the lawsuit filed last week.
Baier is suing Steven James, Niagara County and the Town of Royalton. The notice of claim states that Baier's injuries were caused by the "negligence and carelessness of the county arising from the county's defective design of the intersection", specifically the striping. Amico says that the yellow stripes on Bunker Hill Road stop too far before Gasport Road, and that led Stevens to cut the corner short.
"Our experts who had visited the scene, who have applied the standards for reasonably safe design and construction, of this intersection believe confidently that this intersection was improperly designed and channeled traffic directly into the path of someone such as David Baier, when he is stopped at the intersection and is struck by Steven James' pickup truck," Amico said.
Niagara County's deputy highway commissioner Michael Tracy told 2 On Your Side over the phone that the intersection met all safety specifications when it was built back in the late 1950's. Royalton's Town Attorney Tom Brandt says that codes are rewritten all the time, but in many cases roads and intersections are grandfathered in.
"You do have to look at when the intersections were constructed, and you have to look at whether there have been other accidents in the past whether there has been notification of a dangerous situation," Brandt said.
Amico says that he will now begin building his case, gathering information to support his client's claims of an unsafe intersection. He says it will likely be years before the case is settled and it is still premature to discuss possible dollar amounts connected to damages they'll seek.